The solar term of Yushui, or Rain Water, is probably named after the climate around the period of time. Falling on Monday this year, it is the time when temperatures begin to rise and rain becomes more frequent.
Rain Water is the second of the 24 solar terms in the Chinese lunar calendar, and it usually falls in the first lunar month of a Chinese New Year, before the Lantern Festival. With the snow and ice thawing, the rainfall increases, and the flora and fauna in China awaken.
Meteorologically speaking, Rain Water is when the spring makes its comeback. In large swathes of China, the temperature increases to above zero degrees Celsius, and farmers need to prepare for their New Year’s work.
What rain means to the spring
There is an ancient Chinese saying, “Rain during the spring time is as precious as oil,” signifying the importance of rain to the plants and farming.
Around this period of time, the most important thing for the farmers is timely irrigation, especially in northern China where the rainfall is rarely sufficient.
Married daughters visit their parents
It is an ancient Chinese tradition for married daughters to pay a visit to their parents during the day of Yushui. The traditional gifts are a piece of red silk and a pot of stewed meat.
The red silk represents the best wishes for the parents to have good health, and the meat – cooked with pork, beans and kelp – is out of gratitude to the parents for raising them as children.
The tradition is maintained in many areas across China.
Keep a balanced diet
Chinese medicine believes that the spring is the best season to protect the spleen. It is recommended to keep a balanced diet, while maintaining similar portions in the intake of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals.
Fresh vegetables and fruits are highly advisable, with carrots, Chinese yams and millets among the top choices. Chinese tradition suggests it would be better to eat less spicy food.
Coldness lingers for a while
Even though the spring is in bloom during Rain Water, it is still a bit early to take off the heavy coat completely. Ancient Chinese people said it would be better to keep your coat on for a little longer in the spring, because the winter chill still lingers in the air.
Meanwhile, as plants and animals awaken, so does the cold virus. The constantly changing weather conditions worsen the situation. Hospitals are usually filled with people infected by the virus.
For the Chinese, if Lichun is the prologue of the spring, Rain Water is the second movement of the symphony. Within days, the spring becomes visible in the sprouting buds.