A solar term is a period of about two weeks and is based on the sun’s position in the zodiac. Solar terms form the traditional Chinese calendar system. The calendar follows the ancient Chinese belief that living in accordance with nature will enable one to live a harmonious life. This article series explores each of the year’s 24 solar terms, offering guidance on how to best navigate the season.
Solar Term: ‘Grain Rain’
2021 Dates: April 20–May 4
As spring progresses, the rains and humidity also increase. This moisture supports life. “Grain Rain” means it’s time for a lot of rain to nourish all grains. It puts pressure on grain stalks to produce, on flowers to bloom, and on humans to get outdoors and release uncomfortable feelings.
Heat and humidity are both high within our bodies during Grain Rain (April 20–May 4), which can lead to nerve pain, joint pain, and a sense of pressure, as well as feelings of anxiety and anger. People who are prone to water retention may feel lower body muscle tightness, sore joints, and swelling during this time.
It is important to pay attention to our physical and mental health and to manage any negative emotions. The change of season and allergies can be very hard on some people. There is a widespread misconception that rates of suicide spike around Christmas time, but historically the rates are actually higher around mid-April to early May—a stark reminder to take extra care of ourselves and others at this time.
Grain Rain is the last of the six spring solar terms.
Take Time for Tea
Grain Rain is not only the time when grains ripen; it’s also when tea growers enjoy their first harvest—a healthy reward for their hard work. Enjoying freshly brewed tea from the tea gardens is a popular activity throughout Southeast Asia at this time.
However, a large amount of rainfall is not good for growing tea, as it can damage the plant’s delicate leaves. Warm temperatures and excess rainfall make the plants grow too fast, which affects the taste of fine and premium teas—much like grapes for wine.
Tea harvested before Grain Rain is called yu qian cha, which means “tea before the heavy rain.” Teas from this time are most beneficial for hydrating and preventing inflammation in the body, and are believed to enhance health and longevity.
The Peony Rebellion
Most flowering plants have shown their best blooms before this solar term, with the exception of the peony, which is the flower associated with Grain Rain.
According to Chinese legend, in the deep of winter, Empress Wu Zetian of the Tang Dynasty once ordered that all of the flowers in her royal garden in the ancient capital city of Chang’an were to bloom.
The flowers, afraid of the power of the empress, all bloomed, except for the peony. This enraged the empress, who ordered that the peony be moved to the city Luoyang. Since then, the plant has flourished there.
4 Tips for Living in Harmony With ‘Grain Rain’
- Visit open spaces with grand views to help relax the eyes and the mind.
- Get exercise and sweat a bit, which are good for improving blood circulation and reducing pressure.
- Avoid going out in the rain, to protect yourself against catching a cold.
- Massage or stimulate the tips of the fingers to help yourself stay calm. Using the nail of one thumb, press hard on the fingertips of the opposite hand. These 10 points are called shi xuan xue, which means “10 relief valve points.” This can bring immediate relief when one feels upset, angry, or depressed.
Beneficial foods at this time include fish, asparagus, black sesame seeds, pear, red beans, tofu, tempeh, wheat germ, and vegetables with white-colored roots, such as radishes.
Getting lots of vitamin B and zinc can relieve the uncomfortable feelings of this season and boost energy levels. To protect the liver, avoid sour-tasting foods. Avoid spicy and deep-fried foods as well.
Ginger, vanilla, and citrus peel are helpful herbs to consume. Green and floral teas—such as calendula, rose, jasmine, and chrysanthemum—are very beneficial.
Epoch Times contributor Moreen Liao is a descendant of four generations of traditional Chinese medicine doctors. She is also a certified aromatherapist, former dean of the New Directions Institute of Natural Therapies in Sydney, and the founder of Ausganica, a certified organic cosmetic brand.