The traditional Chinese lunar calendar divides the year into 24 solar terms. Major heat, the 12th solar term of the year, begins on July 22 this year and ends on Aug 6.
Nanjing, Wuhan and Chongqing, cities often regarded as the "three furnaces" of China, reach their hottest during major heat. The hottest place in China is Turpan of Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, often surpassing 40℃ in the afternoons during major heat.
The sunshine, high temperatures and heavy rainfall are good for crops. However, many natural calamities such as floods, droughts and typhoons also occur during major heat. It is crucial to harvest and plant in time to avoid setbacks caused by natural disasters.
Sending the major heat ship is a folk tradition spanning centuries in Taizhou, Zhejiang province. The ship, filled with sacrificial offerings, is carried and marched to the harbor by fishermen while receiving prayers and blessings from onlookers. When it reaches the sea, the ship is burned, along with prayers of good harvests and health of villagers.
Major heat is the reproduction season for crickets, and cricket fights are a popular seasonal pasttime activity for many Chinese. The custom dates back more than 1,000 years to the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907).
In ancient China, villagers offered tea in pavilions to passerby free of charge during major heat to help them cool down. This centuries-old custom is still preserved to this day in some parts of Wenzhou, Zhejiang province.
Pineapples, which are in season during major heat, are often consumed in Taiwan, not just for its sweet and juicy taste, but also because the term for "pineapple" in local dialect sounds very similar to "incoming prosperity".
Grass jelly, or xiancaodong, is an herbal dessert that's popular in South China. As a popular saying in Guangdong province goes, "eat herb jelly in major heat, stay young like the immortals," the ingredients used in the dish is known for their ability to quell the summer heat.