By Zhong Wenxing, Zhang Wenjie, Xian Jiangnan, Xiang Shizhen
The traditional Chinese lunar calendar divides the year into 24 solar terms. Awakening of Insects (Chinese: 惊蛰) falls on Mar 5 and ends on Mar 20 this year.
Here are 5 things you may not know about Awakening of Insects.
The Awakening of Insects is an extremely important time for farmers and is widely seen as the beginning of the busiest time for agricultural work. During this period, most partsof China experience the quickest rise in temperatures, with the average level reaching above 10 degrees Celsius, and there is a marked increase in sunshine, which provides good natural conditions for farming.
Old Chinese sayings such as "once the Awakening of Insects comes, spring ploughing never rests" reveal the importance of this term to farmers.
Offering sacrifices to the white tiger
According to ancient Chinese folklore, a white tiger is the creature that brings quarrels and disputes. It always begins hunting during the Awakening of Insects, and sometimes bites people. It is said that those bitten by a white tiger will encounter evil villains in their life that bring obstructions and bad luck. Therefore people offer sacrifices to the white tiger during the Awakening of Insects to protect themselves.
When practicing this old custom, people draw the white tiger on paper, and then smear pig's blood and pork on its mouth. This means the tiger is fed so that it would not bite people, avoiding bad luck and conflict.
"Villain" hitting originated in the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and it's a folk ritual popular in Guangdongand Hong Kong. The custom is practiced during the Awakening of Insects to expel the "villain" and to bring good luck. People often assign a specific "witch" (usually an elderly woman) to "beat the villains". They use paper cut in the shape of humans to represent "villains" in their lives and the "witch" would use shoes or other tools to hit the paper to expel bad luck.
In Hong Kong, the Swan neck bridge between Causeway Bay and Wan Chai has become a popular place for people to beat villains.
A good time for fishing
Around the Awakening of Insects, hibernating animals wake up, and so do fish. They swim from deep water to shallow water in search of food, mating and bearing young. It is a good time for fishing.
Fishing can provide mental and physical relaxation, especially for people living in the city. Driving to the suburbs, fishing in a lake, bathing in the sunlight, enjoying the singing birds, fragrant flowers and waving willows make for a perfect weekend in spring.
Eating pears around the Awakening of Insects is a widely-practiced custom in China. As the weather gets warmer and the air becomes dry, people tend to feel their mouths are parched and tongues dry, which can cause colds or coughs. A pear is sweet, juicy and cold, moistening the lungs to arrest a cough. Therefore, pears are highly recommended during the Awakening of Insects.
Watch the video below to find out more:
(With input from China Daily)