2022-07-03 00:29

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Culture: Noteworthy Dates in the Chinese Calendar - July 2022


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July is full of notable dates! Let's take a look at three of them: one festival and two solar terms.

01

Double Sixth Festival

This festival, also known as Tian Kuang Festival and Clothes Drying Day, takes place on the sixth day of the sixth lunar month, July 15th this year. It is called different names and celebrated slightly differently in different parts of China. The origin of the festival is said to be Xuanzang - later immortalized in Journey to the West - drying the wet scriptures he was bringing back to China on this day after they were soaked in seawater on his journey. Thus the day became thought of as a lucky time to 'dry' clothes and books by putting them out in the hot sun. This also acted as a way to prevent the clothes and books from becoming moth-eaten or mouldy.

On the sixth day of the sixth month, scholars will dry their books in sun, women will dry their clothes in sun and farmers will pray for their harvest - Ming Dynasty saying


The name Tian Kuang (; 'gift from heaven') comes from the Song-dynasty emperor Zhenzong, who announced it to be the official name for the festival after he received scriptures from heaven calling him a wise ruler, an enlightened emperor who could govern the country and bring peace to all.  


In modern China, however, the festival is better known by its Yao name - the Clothes Drying Festival () which actually translates as 'putting clothes in the sun festival'. It is celebrated by many of China's ethnic minorities with music and feasting in the evening after the clothes and books have been taken back inside.

02

Solar Term: Slight Heat

Slight Heat (), which falls on July 7th this year, is the eleventh of the twenty-four solar terms. Slight Heat marks the beginning of the 'dog days' ( Ftin) of summer and the hottest 6-week period of the year (encapsulated in the phrase R zi snf - the heat is in the 3 hottest periods). As the name suggests, although you can feel the heat, it has not yet reached the highest temperature.


In the past, people in southern China had the custom of 'eating new things' ( Sh xn) during Slight Heat. The farmers ground the freshly harvested rice and wheat into powder to make cakes and noodles. The neighbors and villagers shared the food to express their wishes for a good harvest. The food would also be offered to the ancestors to pray for good weather. In the north of China, there is a tradition of eating dumplings. In the hot weather people would lose their appetite and become thinner than usual, known as K xi ('suffering from the heat of summer'). Dumplings were seen as food for whetting the appetite.


While most places in China don't celebrate Clothes Drying Day, many areas had the custom of putting paintings, books and clothes in the sun to dry them out to protect them from being eaten by insects. There's a saying: Li yu li, shi hng l ; 'on the sixth day of the sixth month put clothes out in the sun' ( here refers to colorful clothes).

03

Solar Term: Great Heat

Great Heat (), the twelfth of the twenty-four solar terms, falls on July 23rd, and is the last solar term of the summer and the hottest solar term in the year. Remember the 'dog days' of summer ( Ftin) we mentioned above? Well, at this time of year, people drank Fu tea in the days of the Great Heat; Fucha is an infusion of 10 or more plants including honeysuckle and licorice all of which aid in cooling the body. In Wenzhou in Zhejiang Province, the custom of giving out Fucha to passersby for free has survived to the present day. 


In many places, the beginning of Great Heat was a day to burn incense and pray at the local temple for good weather and a good harvest. At this time of year, storms, typhoons and flooding were (and are) all common, so this was particularly important. 

Will you be marking any of these days this month? Let us know in the comments section on our website (click the read more button below), or on our social media pages on Facebook (@CulturalKeysChina) or Instagram (@CulturalKeys). We always love hearing from you!


Photo Credits

- Cultural Keys

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