The traditional Chinese lunar calendar divides the year into 24 solar terms. Minor heat, the 11th solar term of the year, begins on July 7 this year and ends on July 21.
The arrival of minor heat signifies that the hottest weather is coming, but temperature has yet reached its peak point. The hottest time of the year are often observed after minor heat ends.
Storms, thunder and hail are common 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.
Minor heat is the season when fireflies become lively. Zhu Shuzhen, a poet 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.
The hot and humid weather of minor heat are good for the growth of lotus flowers. Lotus flowers, which bloom unsullied from the mud, have been linked to beauty, purity and noble characters from the ancient times.
Be sure to drink plenty of water and replenish electrolytes to avoid heat strokes from the rising temperature and humidity during minro heat. Seasonal fruits, such as cherries and watermelons, are good choices.
It is a folk custom to eat lotus roots during minor heat. Lotus roots have been served in the royal court in summer since the reign of Emperor Xianfeng of the Qing Dynasty (1851-1861).
Humidity is often very high during minor heat, enough to provide a suitable environment for mold to grow on clothings and quits. For years, families across China have sunned their belongings whenever possible to prevent this from happening.