Start of Autumn (lì qiū立秋)
In the Gregorian calendar, the Start of Autumn usually falls around August 7, and more often refers in particular to the day when the sun is exactly at the celestial longitude of 135°. As the old saying goes, “cool winds breeze in the day of Liqiu,” the Start of Autumn marks the beginning of the cool autumn.
It is obvious that almost all solar terms relate climate change to peoples’ daily life, food, and health. Since the Start of Autumn serves as an important term to mark the beginning of autumn, food is also an indispensable part of the period. For example, people in Beijing and Hebei Province follow a custom of “Tie Qiu Biao” (eat chicken, duck, fish, and meat to increase one’s weight) because they believe that men will grow thin without a good appetite in the hot summer.
In Tianjin, people follow the fashion of “bite the autumn”; i.e., eat melons to avoid possible diarrhea in winter and spring. In the past, people in Hangzhou ate autumn peaches and kept stones until Year’s eve, at which time they threw the stones into a stove and burned them until they were ashes. Following the custom purportedly helps people dispel all misfortune in the coming year. Local residents in Sichuan Province used to drink “Liqiu water” to rid themselves of the hidden heat of summer and to avoid possible diarrhea in the autumn. Similarly, people in Shangdong ate “Zha,” which was made from beans and vegetables. All of these eating customs are followed to prevent possible diarrhea in autumn.