In China, the lunar calendar divides the year into 24 solar terms. The solar terms were created thousands of years ago to guide agricultural production and function even now.
The 6th solar term of the year is Grain Rain (Chinese: Gu Yu), which starts on April 20 and ends on May 5 in 2015. The Grain Rain signals the end of cold weather and a rapid rise in temperature. It is also the last solar term in spring.
Here are some things you should know about Grain Rain.
Important time for agriculture
Grain Rain originates from the old saying, "Rain brings up the growth of hundreds of grains," which shows that this period of rainfall is extremely important for the growth of crops. Grain Rain brings a marked increase in temperature and rainfall. It's a key time to protect the crops from insect pests.
There is an old custom in southern China that people drink tea on the day of Grain Rain. Spring tea during Grain Rain is rich in vitamins and amino acids, which can help to remove heat from the body and is good for the eyes. It is also said that drinking tea on this day would prevent bad luck.
Grain Rain falls between the end of spring and the beginning of summer. From the end of April to the beginning of May, the temperature rises much higher than it does in March. With dry soil, an unsteady atmosphere and heavy winds, gales and sandstorms become more frequent.
Eating toona sinensis
People in northern China have the tradition to eat the vegetable toona sinensis during Grain Rain. An old Chinese saying goes "toona sinensis before the rain is as tender as silk". The vegetable is nutritious and can help to strengthen the immune system. It is also good for the stomach and skin.
Grain Rain Festival
The Grain Rain festival is celebrated by fishing villages in the coastal areas of northern China. Grain Rain marks the start of the fishermen’s first voyage of the year. The custom dates back more than 2,000 years ago, when people believed they owed a good harvest to the gods, who protected them from the stormy seas. People would worship the sea and stage sacrifice rites on the Grain Rain festival, praying for a bountiful harvest and a safe voyage for their loved ones.