The Beginning of Autumn

The Beginning of Autumn is one of the twenty-four solar terms in traditional Chinese calendar. It comes sometime around the 11th day of the seventh mouth of the lunar calendar, or the eighth of August of the solar calendar. This solar term marks the beginning of autumn, with the temperature gradually falling.

When autumn begins, the summer heat is gone and autumn cool is in the air. The weather is mild and crops are about to ripen. So the Beginning of Autumn also marks the approach of a busy farming season. Meanwhile, it is an ideal time for the pests in the field to breed and farmers should pay attention to pest prevention while preparing for the harvest.
In ancient times, the Beginning of Autumn was a very important solar term. On that day, the emperor would in person lead the officials on an excursion to the western suburbs to welcome the coming of autumn. When returning to the court, the emperor would feast the army, because autumn is the time for troop training.

For ordinary people, there were a lot of customs on the Beginning of Autumn. The ancients believed that a rainy Beginning of Autumn could bring good harvest. For old-style private schools, the day was the school-opening day. It was also a tradition to worship heaven on that day as a way to thank the God of Heaven for bringing a bumper harvest. In addition, people would customarily hold sacrificial rituals to worship the God of Earth on that day. 

The Qixi Festival, otherwise known as Chinese Valentine’s Day, comes around the Beginning of Autumn. In ancient times, it was a tradition to worship the moon and tell the legend about the cowherd and the weaving girl, with various activities held in different areas to pray for better needlework skills. The Beginning of Autumn is followed by the Ghost Festival, a day for paying homage to ancestors and seeing off ghosts. There are also lots of festivities going on around the Beginning of Autumn in areas dominated by ethnic minorities, including the Shoton Festival of the Tibetan people, the Five Cereals’ Day of the Naxi people and the Fresh Grain Tasting Day celebrated among ethnic minorities in the southwest.

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