The traditional Chinese solar calendar divides the year into 24 solar terms. Minor Heat, (Chinese: 小暑), the 11th solar term of the year, begins on July 7 this year and ends on July 22.
Minor Heat signifies the hottest period is coming but the extreme hot point has yet to arrive.
In China, the 24 solar terms were created thousands of years ago to guide agricultural production. But the solar term culture is still useful today to guide people's lives through special foods, cultural ceremonies and even healthy living tips that correspond with each term.
The following are 6 things you need to know about Minor Heat.
A season of storms, thunder and hail
Storms, thunder and hail often happen during Minor Heat, though in some years there might be droughts. One of the prevailing farming activities during Minor Heat is staying on top of flood control and drought relief.
A season for the lotus flower
In Minor Heat, high temperatures are good for the growth of the lotus flower. From Minor Heat to the Double Ninth Festival, the lotus flower is in full bloom, and always simple but elegant.
Minor Heat is the season when fireflies become lively. Zhu Shuzhen, a woman of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), once described in her famous poem Summer Fireflies a happy scene of children playing with fireflies in the woods at night.
Eating small melons
Minor Heat comes when all kinds of melons are being harvested. One custom in Nanjing, Jiangsu province has to do with enjoying small melons on the day of Minor Heat and having big melons on the day of Major Heat. Small and big melons normally refer to cantaloupes and watermelons.
Dumplings are the traditional and household food among Chinese. When the "dog day" comes, people tend to lose their appetites, and dumplings can refresh people's feelings toward food.
During the Minor Heat period, with the longest amount of sunlight and the strongest sunlight radiation, many families hang their clothes out in the sun to prevent mildew.