China's dog days ; Sanfu (三伏, sān fú)
China is in the middle of Sanfu (三伏, sān fú) referring to three 10-day periods in the Chinese lunar calendar which are the hottest of the year and hold many ancient traditions and customs.
Sanfutie 三伏贴 are patches filled with a paste of traditional Chinese medicinal herbs, applied to specific acupuncture points on the back or neck during Sanfu for immunity and prevention of upcoming winter illnesses such as coughs, asthma, arthritis or rheumatism.
Because of the Sanfu heat, the meridians in the human body are clear and smooth, providing a great opportunity to balance and prepare the body for the harsh winter.
Sanfutie or the herbal patches on acupuncture points during Sanfu has an ancient history and was first mentioned in TCM literature over 2,000 years ago. It was especially popular and a basic health treatment during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912).
Sanfutie has a significant revival since recent years all over China with people turning towards herbal medicinal prevention for illnesses. Sanfutie is based on the principle of 冬病夏治 (winter disease, summer cure).
Different regions have different traditions during the Sanfu time.
Generally people consume dumplings at the start of Sanfu for a good nutrition base as people tend to lose appetite during the heat.
The second period is often characterized by noodle soup dishes to stimulate sweat and internal heat relief.
People in Changsha, Hunan Province eat rooster during Sanfu to clear the damp while people in Shandong province eat hot mutton soup to disperse the cold from cool beverages.
For locals in Fujian province, a cup of jasmine tea, a cattail leaf fan, and a Fuzhou opera performance are all they need for a peaceful Sanfu.