In China, autumn starts today
According to the Chinese calendar, autumn starts today as it is 立秋 liqiu, the beginning of autumn. The traditional Chinese calendar has 24 solar terms in which certain events are supposed to happen. These are the 24 solar terms with their Gregorian date for this year:
As you can see, even though autumn starts today, the heat is supposed to stay until August 23rd, when the next solar term marks the beginning of the end of hot weather.
For me, coming from Spain, the solar terms seem to have the dates all wrong. How can autumn start on August 7th? It is still super hot, the forecast says we are going to have a maximum temperature of 36ºC for at least one more week and just yesterday I felt going outside was like stepping into a sauna. Meanwhile, in Spain, half of the country is on holidays and enjoying the beach this month as it is the most popular month for holidays (trying to get something done in Spain in August is a bit like trying to get something done in China during Chinese New Year). Also, yes, it’s not that hot at the end of August as it is at the end of July, but many years the summer weather stays until at least the middle of October. I have pictures from my first year in Beijing when I went to visit the Temple of Heaven during the October holidays and I was wearing a tank top because it was still sweltering. Also, a couple of years ago I was swimming in the beach in Spain on October 1st. But wait, maybe this is all due to global warming and the traditional Chinese calendar was perfectly accurate thousands of years ago!
According to tradition, today people are supposed to eat meat to gain some body fat and prepare for the winter; this is called 贴秋膘 tie qiu biao or “stick autumn fat”. I think some people still follow these customs but, to be honest, nowadays there is no need to do it because food is widely available in winter and there are heaters and other external things you can use you keep warm. No need for extra body fat! Specially when it is still so hot. I’d rather eat watermelon than meat today, which this website says is a custom from Shandong province.
It doesn’t matter what the calendar says though, for me it’s still summer and I will have to endure several more days or weeks of not doing much at all and staying at home with my best friend, the air con. It’s too hot to be outside for more than half an hour, particularly now that I am 37 weeks pregnant!