The Gregorian calendar, the Rain Water usually falls around February 18, and more often refers in particular to the day when the sun is exactly at the celestial longitude of 330°. The day embodies two meanings: one is the increase of rainfall and another is the change in precipitation from snow to rain.
One of the popular customs during Rain Water is that couples often visit their parents-in-law with gifts such as long red cotton ribbons and canned meat. The former stands for the wish of long life to their parents-in-law while the latter, made of pig feet, beans, and kelp, symbolizes their gratitude to and respect of their elders. If they are newlyweds, their parents-in-law give the son-in-law an umbrella to keep him out of the wind and rain when he goes out to earn a living.
To the west of Sichuan Province, Rain Water is a special and humane festival in which young women with their sons or daughters stand on the main road in the early morning, waiting for the first passer by. These women make their kids kowtow to ask the passer-by to be their kids’ foster father or foster mother. This custom, called “Meet, kowtow and raise,” embodies a good wish for the child’s health and future.
Another popular custom west of Sichuan Province is similar to the former that we introduced. Couples pay a visit to their parents-in-law. The only difference is that only the married daughter and not the couple returns to her parents’ home. Women who have given birth need to bring gifts such as canned meat and chairs, while women who have yet to have given birth give red pants to make them pregnant soon.