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  • Gordon Dumoulin

Sultry summers and park evenings... Sanfu 三伏 time



Last Saturday (July 16) was the beginning of Sanfu 三伏 in China. Sanfu or China's dog days are three periods of about each 10 days, indicating the hottest time of summer.

This stadium in Beijing's Tongzhou Canal park is every summer evening (and early mornings) filled with people from the neighborhood enjoying the 'cool' evenings and doing exercises together or individually. The stadium is open and free from early morning to well into the evening for anyone except when there are official sport events. A little impression from this evening.


Sanfu originates from the ancient Chinese Stem-Branch calendar (干支, 1100 BC) with numerous traditions, still alive and kicking today in lifestyle, nutrition and traditional Chinese medicine.


Divided in three phases; Toufu (头伏), Zhongfu (中伏) and Mofu (末伏), Sanfu usually lasts 30-40 days, Sanfu is a period in which people are advised to remain calm and relaxed for example in the coolness of parks. Typical Sanfu foods are mung bean soup, meat broth, egg pancakes, chrysanthemum or jasmine tea, or water melon. The start of the Sanfu period is usually accompanied with dumplings or noodles


Sanfu is also a vital time for Traditional Chinese Medicine, considered an optimum period for your metabolism with the meridians clear and smooth to prepare immunity against upcoming winter illnesses such as coughs, asthmas or arthritis.





Sanfutie (三伏贴) are medicinal herbal paste patches which people can get in hospitals during Sanfu. The patches are stuck on specific body parts to improve and prepare immunity and strength for upcoming winter.




This TCM practice has first been recorded more than 2,000 years ago and has been very popular in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and still in valuable practice for many people today. It is based on the principle 冬病夏治, literally “winter disease, summer cure”.



#traditionalchinesemedicine #tcm #chineseculture #sanfu #chinesesociety

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