Noteworthy Dates in the Chinese Calendar: June 2020 Edition

As of the start of the Lixia solar term on May 5th , summer has officially started in China! Now we’re moving into June, there are several notable summer days to pay attention to. The best-known festival this month is the Dragon Boat Festival on the 25th, but what else does June have in store  for us?

Read on to find out!

Children’s Day (儿童节  Értóng jié) – June 1st

Children play the zither in Taiyuan City, Shanxi on Children’s Day 2019. (Xinhua/Yang Chenguang)
Children’s Day dates from the 1925 World Conference on Child Welfare, when it was set on June 1st. China has observed this day since 1949, with a school holiday for all children, in addition to reduced prices and special offers on attractions and toys. Although this year will undoubtedly be a bit different, usually lots of fun activities are put on across China for children on this day, ranging from outings with their school to sporting events to craft activities at ‘children’s palaces’ (activity centres). 

Grain on the Ear (芒种 Máng zhòng) – June 5th

Barley is harvested around Mangzhong (farmonline.com.au)
Mangzhong, meaning ‘grain on the ear’ (a full head of grain) is the ninth solar term in the yearly cycle of 24 terms of two weeks each. The name suggests that certain grain crops such as barley are mature and ready to be harvested, though in fact, like many of the solar terms, the events implied by the name are about a month early in the majority of the country (perhaps reflecting climate change in the 2000 years since the solar terms were named). Traditionally, other crops such as millet and rice must be sown during this period. 

Summer Solstice (夏至 Xià zhì)- June 21st 

Xiazhi is the tenth solar term, beginning when the Sun reaches the celestial longitude of 90° and ending when it reaches the longitude of 105°. There’s an old Chinese saying: “Eat dumplings on the Winter Solstice and eat noodles on Summer Solstice.” True to the saying, in many parts of China, including Beijing, this is the time to eat cold noodles, made with the recently harvested grain. Before the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) the solstice was a public holiday, and in some places dragon boat races would take place on this day rather than on Dragon Boat Festival itself. 

Dragon boat festival (端午节 duān wǔ jié) – June 25th

The dragon boat festival is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month in the Chinese lunar calendar (June 25th in 2020). 

Although in different areas of the country the festival commemorates several different characters from ancient China, with all the stories involving water, the most common origin story is that the festival commemorates Qu Yuan (340-278 BC), a poet and politician who drowned himself.

According to legend, when they saw Qu Yuan fall into the river, the locals rushed over in their boats to try to save him but they were too late. They threw sticky rice into the water and beat their oars on the water to try to keep the fish away from the body. Later, Qu Yuan appeared in a dream to his friends, and told them to wrap rice in silk parcels with three corners.

Zongzi can be sweet or savoury and are cooked by steaming or boiling

From these events we get dragon boat racing and zongzi (粽子 zòngzi), which are bundles of sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves, and originate from the sticky rice thrown into the water in the legend.

Fancy making your own Zongzi? Or maybe learning how to paint your own dragon? To celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival, Cultural Keys will be holding two events in June, giving you two opportunities to learn more about this fascinating festival or join us to celebrate it in person!

Scan the QR code or email us at [email protected] to sign up or for more information!


Are you planning on marking any of these dates in June? Are any of them new to to you, or have you experienced all of them before? Let us know in the comments below! 

Photo Credits
– Xinhua/Yang Chenguang; Farmonline.com.au; Flickr/ Yan Long


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