“Grain Rain” (Guyu) falls this year on April 20. Its name comes from an old Chinese saying: “Rain aids the growth of countless grain.” This illustrates the importance of rain for crops at this time of year. “Grain Rain” is the last spring solar term, after which temperatures rise and there is a marked increase in rainfall, making it a prime time for growing grain.
“Grain Rain” is the best time to sow bean and melon seeds. Farmers also busy themselves sowing corn, soybean, potato and peanuts. The seeds are usually covered with a plastic sheet to keep them warm enough to germinate.
In southern China custom dictates that people should drink tea on “Grain Rain” day. The spring tea taken during “Grain Rain” is rich in antioxidants, which can help reduce heat in the body, and is also said to be good for the eyesight. Some people believe that drinking tea on this day prevents bad luck.
Going out to view the wonderful sight of peonies in bloom three days after “Grain Rain” has become a tradition in northern China. The flowering of the peonies coincides with “Grain Rain” so it has also known as the “Flower of the Grain Rain.” The peony is native to China and has been cultivated here for over 1,500 years. Its flowers are large and bright, with many layers of colored petals. The flower represents grace and dignity in Chinese culture. Chinese people also associate peonies with wealth and rank. Peonies are a frequent sight in traditional Chinese painting.
Xiangchun (or Chinese toon) are the tender leaves of the Chinese Mahogany tree. Chinese people value this vegetable highly. They pick the leaves to make stuffing for dumplings and steamed buns, and also serve it in various cold dishes. It is said to be nutritious and have medicinal properties.
The Grain Rain Festival is celebrated in fishing villages along the northeast coast of China. “Grain Rain” marks the start of the year’s fishing season. The custom dates back over 2,000 years, to a time when people believed they owed a good harvest to the god who protected them from storms at sea. People worshipped the god of the sea and performed a sacrificial rite during the Grain Rain Festival to ensure a bountiful harvest and pray that their loved ones would be safe when at sea.