July 11 marked the arrival of this year's sanfu days, or "dog days of summer" in China.
Sanfu in the Chinese lunar calendar refers to the three 10-day periods that are predicted to be the hottest days of the year, called toufu or chufu (mid-July), zhongfu (late July to early August), and mofu (mid-August).
The beginning of sanfu varies year to year, in accordance with the ancient Chinese dates designated by 10 Heavenly Stems (tiangan) and 12 Earthly Branches (dizi)-- two sets of sequential signs to calculate history and chronicle
Let's take a look at some traditional ways to while away the dog days of summer.
Ancient Chinese developed a refined diet to help beat the heat and to find peace and joy during sanfu.
Health experts say in sanfu, it's better not to drink icy drinks or eat much ice cream, as the heat within one's body is usually felt on the surface of the body, not in the internal organs. Eating more vegetables, less meat, and less
oily foods are also recommended to make yourself comfortable on those hot summer days.
In his book titled Shanghan Zabing Lun (Treatise on Cold Pathogenic and Miscellaneous Diseases), Zhang Zhongjing, an ancient Chinese physician from the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220), wrote to prevent and treat heat stroke, the right way is to drink some hot water and sweat, as it is good for boosting blood circulation.
When the weather is sizzling, people's tastes change and so they turn to foods and drinks which they believe can help relieve "inner heat" in the human body.
Over the centuries, people in different parts of China have created a wide variety of local delicacies to cool off at the dinner table.
Among the best known "cooling" treats and drinks are bitter melons, cucumbers, black wood ear fungus, herb jelly, sour plum juice, ginger tea, green mung bean soup, and duck soup.