雙語 · 今日寒露，天冷記得添衣！
The Cold Dew falls at around October 8 every year when the sun reaches the celestial longitude of 195°. At this time, temperatures are much lower than in the White Dew. The dew on the ground is colder and almost becomes frost. According to A Collective Interpretation of the Seventy-two Phenological Terms, the Cold Dew “begins in the ninth lunar month, during which the dew is cold and is about to congeal.” The White Dew marks a transition from hot to cool weather when the summer is yet to end and one can still see shiny drops of dew in the morning. The Cold Dew, on the other hand, indicates that it is getting cooler and cold weather is around the corner. At the Cold Dew, drops of dew appear frosty. As an old saying goes, “when the Cold Dew is here, drops of cold dew are everywhere.”
In ancient China, the Cold Dew was divided into three pentads, namely, ‘the guest geese arrive’, ‘the sparrows enter the ocean and become clams’ and ‘chrysanthemums bloom yellow’. During this period of time, large numbers of swan geese fly to the South in single or zigzag lines. As it is late autumn and it is much cooler, most of the sparrows are gone. When ancient people saw lots of clams suddenly appear at the coast with shell patterns and colors very similar to those of sparrows, they thought the sparrows transformed into clams. The third pentad, ‘chrysanthemums bloom yellow’, refers to the fact that all of the chrysanthemums have blossomed at this time.
During the Cold Dew, temperatures drop quickly. When the cold air brings autumn wind and rain, the temperature often drops by 8 to 10 degrees centigrade. But windy and rainy days don’t last long, except in Southwestern China. Cold anticyclones make it warm in the day and cool at night. In daylight, there is often clear sky and bracing air.
Average temperature varies significantly among different regions. In South China, the temperature averages at above 22℃ and even over 25℃ in Hainan Province - it’s still summer in this part of the country. In the Yangtze-Huaihe river basin and to the south of the Yangtze River, the average temperature is usually somewhere between 15℃ to 20℃, and between 8℃ to 16℃ in the southern part of Northeast China, North China and the Yellow and Huai River valley. In some parts of Northwest China and the central and northern parts of the Northeast, the average temperature already drops to below 8℃. The temperature even averages at below 0℃ in some areas of the plateau in Qinghai Province.
It’s worth noting that because temperatures drop markedly in October, when the cold air encounters autumn rain, the abundant water vapor in the air soon reaches saturation, and then it sometimes turns into misty rain or fog. This often happens at night. In October, when the humidity is high, there might be foggy regions formed in many areas of China, which affects local transportation and traffic safety.
High pressure systems keep the stratified atmosphere stable. If the wind doesn’t blow for days, car exhaust emissions and waste gases and dusts discharged from factories hardly disperse, resulting in smog. If the humidity is high, foggy and smoggy days could take over. The editor would like to kindly remind you to wear a face mask when going outside at such times.
Since the Cold Dew often falls around the Double Ninth Festival, many of its customs are actually similar to those of the latter. For instance, both are occasions for hiking, chrysanthemum appreciation, eating flower cakes and drinking chrysanthemum wine.
Since it’s getting cooler and leaves and flowers are about to weather and fall, this is also known as a time to ‘bid farewell to the green color’. Apart from hiking during the Double Ninth Festival or Chongyang Festival, people also eat flower cakes as in the Chinese language, gao (gāo, cake) has the same pronunciation with gao (height). Therefore cakes for this occasion are also called Chongyang cakes, which symbolize promotion or progress. There are mainly three types of Chongyang cakes - ‘rough ones’, ‘fine ones’ and ‘coin ones’. ‘Rough cakes’ incorporate Chinese parsley, nuts, dates and walnut kernel. ‘Fine cakes’ have 2 to 3 layers, with minced preserved fruits - apple, peach, apricot, black date, etc. - at each layer. ‘Coin cakes’ are basically the same as fine ones except that they are as small as coins, hence the name. And they were usually enjoyed by the noble.
To prevent autumn dryness, many regions in China practice the custom of drinking chrysanthemum wine. In ancient times, chrysanthemum wine was also known as the ‘longevity wine’. The wine, made with chrysanthemums, glutinous rice and yeast, tastes cool and luscious. Tao Yuanming, a famous literatus in ancient China, once composed a poem that says to the effect that: ‘chrysanthemum, when used to make wine, can prolong life; and a person who drinks it can live until they have grey hair’. In other words, he believed that the wine can dispel anxieties and make one live longer.
Appreciating red leaves at the Fragrant Hill has become a tradition and an important outdoor activity in autumn for Beijing residents ever since a long time ago. This is a time of soughing autumn wind and red leaves. Continued temperature drops after the Cold Dew turn maple leaves red in Beijing. In late autumn, red leaves are everywhere in the Fragrant Hill, as if the hill is on fire. The scenery of the mountains makes one marvel at the picturesque sight of nature.
It is known to all that the tradition of hiking during the Double Ninth Festival dates back a long time. Because the Double Ninth falls around the Cold Dew and the weather during the Cold Dew is very suitable for climbing, hiking also became a tradition observed for the Cold Dew. During the White Dew, it is getting cooler and drops of dew begin to appear. When the Cold Dew falls, more drops of dew are formed and the temperature is getting even lower. In certain parts of China, there are frosts. North China takes on a late autumn look with white clouds, red leaves and occasional early frosts. South China embraces a similar autumn scene with cicada becoming silent and lotuses dying. Beijingers love hiking. The Jingshan Park, the Badachu Park and the Fragrant Hill are popular choices for the sport and they attract more visitors at the Double Ninth Festival.
For indigenous Beijing residents, cricket fighting reaches its climax during the White Dew, the Autumnal Equinox and the Cold Dew. In China, the cricket is also known as the clothes-knitting reminder. Chirps of crickets remind people of autumn. As it is getting cooler, it’s time to prepare winter clothes, hence the old saying ‘when the cricket sings, the lazy wife is on alert’. Historical records show that cricket fighting dates back to the Tang dynasty. Later, during the Southern Song dynasty, a powerful minister named Jia Sidao, who used to wander around and does nothing when he was young, was particularly obsessed with cricket fighting after he became a man of power. He liked it so much that he wrote a book entitled the Book of Cricket. Emperor Xuande of the Ming Dynasty also had an intense interest in it so much so that a good cricket was as expensive as gold in the market. If the ruling elites like something, the commoners love it. Thus ordinary Beijing residents probably started to enjoy cricket battles since the Ming Dynasty.
In South China, this is a season when it’s no longer hot and sunshine brings warmth - a perfect time for traveling. And one can appreciate flowers, eat crabs or go about fishing. During the Cold Dew period, temperatures decrease quickly and sunshine cannot reach the deep water thoroughly. So the fish swims to shallow waters where temperature is higher. Hence the phrase ‘fishing in autumn shallow waters’ in Chinese.
The Cold Dew marks a shift from hot to cold weather. As coldness builds up, things wither gradually. In nature, the airs of yin and yang changes, i.e., the yang declines and the yin grows. The physiological activities of the human body should adapt to these changes to ensure physiological balance (the yin-yang balance).
During the Cold Dew period, there is less and less rainfall and it’s dry. It’s hot in the day and cold in the night. According to traditional Chinese medicine, this is a time of dryness in South China, which the lung and stomach is most vulnerable to. Sweat often evaporates quickly, making the skin dry. One could feel increased wrinkles, thirst, and would often cough. Sometimes the human hair would even fall off and constipation kicks in. It is said that ‘dryness rules the golden autumn’. Therefore the key for good health at this time is to nourish the yin to prevent dryness, and to moisten the lungs and the stomach. One should avoid strenuous exercise and over exertion. It is recommended to have less spicy, strong or roasted food and to have more sesame, walnut, tremella, radish, tomato, lotus root, milk, lily and straight ladybell, which are good for the yin and the stomach. Increased intake of chicken, duck, beef, pork liver, fish, shrimp, dates, and Chinese yam would make one stronger. Excessive intake of spicy substances like chili, ginger, green onion, and garlic would harm the yin within the body and thus should be avoided. Besides, a certain level of humidity should be kept indoors. One should also drink water regularly, and eat more fruits such as Chinese snow pear, banana, cantaloupe, apple, persimmon and grape. In addition, skin creams should be applied from time to time to keep the skin moist.
According to the theory of traditional Chinese medicine, to stay healthy in the four seasons, it’s important to nourish the yang in spring and summer and the yin in autumn and winter. Therefore, the yin within the human body must be nurtured in autumn. When it gets cold, the yang in the body subsides, and the remaining yin shall be nourished. Again, nourishment is vital in autumn.
Mental wellbeing can’t be ignored either. As it gets cold, the hours of sunlight decreases and leaves drop. At such times, there are those who feel gloomy, sentimental, and even depressed. Therefore, in order to stay healthy, one should always be positive and vent distressful emotions through proper channels. In other words, one must try to stay optimistic and open-minded.