Why the Peonies Bloom Late According to Chinese Legend
A solar term is a period of approximately two weeks based on the sun’s position in the zodiac. There are 24 solar terms in a year, which make up the traditional Chinese calendar system used to guide farming and everyday life. The calendar contributes to the ancient Chinese philosophy that living in accordance with nature will enable a harmonious life. This article series delves into each solar term and offers guidance on how to navigate the changes of season in order to live happier and healthier.
Solar term: Grain Rains
2017 Date: April 20 to May 4
Characteristics and Meaning: Grain Rains is the last solar term in spring. By this time, rains are becoming heavier and are the most beneficial for hastening the growth of crops like grain—hence the name.
A large amount of rainfall is not good for growing tea, however, as it can damage the plant’s delicate leaves. Warm temperatures and excess rainfall make the tea-producing plants grow too fast, which affects the taste of fine and premium teas (much like grapes for wine). Tea harvested before Grain Rains is called yu qian cha, which means “tea before the heavy rain.”
Rivers and other water bodies are warming up by this time, and aquatic plants begin to appear. This helps fish and other aquatic creatures to repopulate, which helps contribute to their reproduction in summer.
Most flowering plants have shown their best blooms before this time, with the exception of the peony—known as the flower of Grain Rains.
According to Chinese legend, Empress Wu Zetian of the Tang Dynasty once ordered that all of the flowers in her royal garden in the capital Chang’an were to bloom in deep winter. 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.
Some also refer to the season as mei yu, which means “plum rain,” because green plums are ripe and ready to be harvested around this time.
Impact on People: Heat and humidity are both high within our bodies during Grain Rains, which can lead to anxiety, anger, and a sense of pressure. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to our physical and mental health and to manage any negative emotions. 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.
Living in Harmony with the Season: Visiting open spaces with grand views is good to do at this time to help relax our eyes and our minds.
We can also massage or stimulate the tips of our fingers in order to help us 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.
Foods to Eat: Asparagus, pear, and vegetables with white-colored roots. Avoid spicy and deep-fried foods. Floral teas, such as rose, jasmine, and chrysanthemum, are very beneficial during this time.
Herbs: Ginger, cinnamon, and citrus peel.
Flowers: Aster, rose, and camellia.
Epoch Times contributor Moreen Liao is a certified aromatherapist, former dean of the New Directions Institute of Natural Therapies in Sydney, Australia, group vice president of New Directions Australia, and founder of Ausganica, one of Australia’s leading makers of certified organic skincare and cosmetics. Visit Ausganica.com