The traditional East Asian calendars divide a year into 24 solar terms. Gǔyǔ, Kokuu, Gogu, or Cốc vũ is the 6th solar term. It begins when the Sun reaches the celestial longitude of 30° and ends when it reaches the longitude of 45°. It more often refers in particular to the day when the Sun is exactly at the celestial longitude of 30°. As the last term in spring, in the Gregorian calendar, it usually begins around April 20 and ends around May 5.
According to the saying, “Qingming ceases snow, grain rain ceases frost.” When this term arrives, cold weather finally ends, and the temperatures start to rise.
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. The Grain Rain signals the end of cold weather and a rapid rise in temperature. Here are five things that you may not know about the Grain Rain.
Grain Rain brings a marked increase in temperature and rainfall and the grains grow faster and stronger. It’s a key time to protect the crops from insect pests.
Grain Rain falls between the end of spring and the beginning of summer, with infrequent cold air moving to the southand lingering cold air in the north. 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.
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.
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 stengthen the immunie system. It is also good for the stomach and skin.
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 voyagel for their loved ones.
Grain Rain originally marked the time when the early crops showed their shoots. In early spring the green of new rice shoots is a brilliant color and very beautiful. My most brilliant green is probably the leaves on the lilac bushes. The lawn is still sketchy, except of course for the crabgrass, which is not only a healthy dark green but a good four to six inches higher than the rest. I am slowly winning the war against the crabgrass. I have no issue with crabgrass personally. However, the lawn Nazi down at city hall, whose career consists of monitoring lawn heights, will deliver a nastygram if I fail to maintain my lawn to standards only otherwise found on Marine Corps haircuts. So rather than be an obedient zombie and spend a third of my life repeatedly mowing, the crabgrass is slowly being dug out so I mow less often.
Rice paddies are still more work but I think I would rather have them than useless lawn. I eat a lot of rice and land is too precious to be wasted. At least we have been getting a decent spring rain. Best of all, it’s a day or so at a time with sunny days in between and the humidity is kept low. The window of comfortable weather here is small and the cats and I are enjoying it. The allergic symptoms that Simba, Dolly and Mi Sun were all having have disappeared. I am sure the winter dampness was producing mold down in the scary, Stephen King movie crawlspace and it was getting in the duct work.
In this solar term, gǔ yǔ, the pentads first, 萍始生, ‘Duckweed begins to sprout.’ You might wonder why this would be something significant enough to mention but duckweed is quite a useful and remarkable plant in spite of it’s humble structure and appearance. As it’s name implies, it is a valuable food for waterfowl, for one thing. The second pentad is 鳴鳩拂其羽, ‘The turtle dove brushes off it’s feathers.’ I found this translated in a way that made no sense, so I did my own translation. I think the original translator could not identify what was brushing what as I has a bit of trouble finding the the proper name of the bird. In the Japanese naming of the pentads the phrase is 霜止出苗?, ‘Frost ends, rice seedlings begin to grow, but even here I had to tweak the translation. The last pentad is for the Chinese 戴勝降于桑, ‘Cuckoo perches in mulberry trees’. There are no cuckoos or mulberry trees in my yard., although I would welcome them both. For me, once again the Japanese version applies much better 牡丹華?), ‘Peony blooms’. I do have peonies and I can see the buds forming now. It will only be a few days util the hu?ge pink blooms brighten my front garden beds and my life.
Simba is no longer with us for this rain Rain. Wherever you are little girl, now do you see why I wanted pictures? I miss her so much.