Chinese Weather Wisdom

From south to north, temperatures on 2014/02/11.
From south to north, temperatures from yesterday, 2014/02/11.

The blissful weather from the Chinese New Year break and the following days just couldn’t keep going, could it? Just as I was getting ready to put away all my winter clothes, preparing for a trip to the hairdresser to get some layers trimmed off and planning to go shopping for some summer clothes, here comes the cold and rain again. Although, seeing on twitter how temperatures in Taipei were around 8°C when it was about 16°C in southern Taiwan, I knew better than to complain. Nonetheless, with all the coverage reports of this miserable weather, my mind also turned cloudy and I started to think of how fitting the Beatles’ hit song “Here comes the rain” would be at this moment, except for the fact that the title is actually “Here comes the sun”.

Had I been in Europe, I would have known better than to excitingly anticipate the summer days to arrive this soon. The French will remind you that En avril, ne te découvre pas d’un fil. En mai, fais ce qui te plaît!, meaning “In April, don’t remove a thread of your clothing. In May, do as you please!“. As for the English people, experts in rain skype_wink, there’s the old saying ne’er cast a clout till May be out or in other words, do not discard your winter clothes until the end of May.

I find it amusing how both expressions are similar though just off by a month, but well, laugh no more (I say to myself), because the Chinese version pushes it  a little further, until the month of June, or precisely, until Duanwujie 端午節, the day of the Dragon’s Boat Festival.

From a Taiwanese friend and additional investigation online, here are a few Chinese expressions advising to keep our warm clothes until the D(uanwujie)-Day:

端午節過後棉被才可以收起來。
Don’t put away your blanket before Duanwujie.

未吃五月粽,破裘不捨放。
Until you have eaten zongzi at Duanwujie, don’t put your coat away.

未吃五月節粽,破棉被不可放。
Until you have eaten zongzi at Duanwujie, don’t put your blanket away.

The last two idioms are similar, and Duanwujie is indirectly referred to as 五月, literally the 5th month but shouldn’t be translated as in May since we are here dealing with the lunar calendar. Duanwujie falls on the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar calendar, which converts into sometimes in June, never the same day from year to year.

As for the culinary touch of this post, zongzi 粽子 is one of the traditional food to enjoy during Duanwujie, it’s usually translated as rice dumpling, but I now prefer to call it Chinese tamale, as seen on the menu of biàn​ dāng.

粽子 Chinese tamale (flickr/beautifulcataya)
粽子 Chinese tamale (flickr/beautifulcataya)

Duanwujie this year will take place on June 2nd, four months from now, so until then, my dear readers, keep warm! ^^

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