A child gets sanfutie－therapeutic bandages filled with herbal medicine placed at acupuncture points－at Handan Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital in Handan, Hebei province, on Tuesday. It was the first day of sanfu, the dog days of the summer. In TCM practice it is considered a particularly suitable time for treating illnesses. (HAO QUNYING/FOR CHINA DAILY)
Chinese people embraced the first day of sanfu, the hottest and dampest period of the year, on Tuesday in unique ways across the country.
Sanfu, also called China's "dog days of summer", refers to three 10-day periods that are predicted to have the hottest days of the year. As a millennium-old tradition, Chinese people are spending sanfu like their ancestors.
In traditional Chinese medicine, sanfu is considered a particularly suitable time for treating illnesses. Sanfutie, a special treatment, has been used by Chinese people for hundreds of years,
In Wuhan, Hubei province, tens of thousands of people have come to the Hubei Provincial TCM Hospital for treatment－a bandage made of traditional Chinese herbal medicine placed at various acupuncture points on the body.
"This is the 11th year I have received this treatment," said a woman in her 40s who was waiting in line to get the sanfutie.
"I was diagnosed with chronic sore throat several years ago, but after I used sanfutie, my condition was gradually resolved."
Amazed by the effects of sanfutie, she recommended the therapy to her family and friends.
"Sanfutie represents a typical offseason TCM treatment, which during the hot summer treats illnesses related to cold weather," said Deng Kebin, director of the hospital's otolaryngology department.
"Because of the summer heat, the meridians of the human body are clear and smooth, providing a great opportunity to balance the body's energy and heal diseases," Deng said.
In Tai'an, Shandong province, people flocked to barbecue shops to eat mutton on sanfu.
"Our business is the best during sanfu," said Wang Yan, the owner of one of the biggest mutton shops in town. "Customers eat a total of more than 40 sheep every day."
Wang said the custom of eating mutton during sanfu can be traced back to the Yao period, about 4,200 years ago.
According to Chinese medical theory, drinking hot mutton soup can disperse the cold in the stomach caused by drinking cold beverages.
Besides eating mutton, Shandong also organizes other cultural events during sanfu, such as sheep fights.
In Shanghai, people practice sanfu traditions by eating dumplings and drinking tea. Wu Zude, a local culture expert, said such traditional foods can replenish a person's energy and prevent health problems.
In the scorching heat, the jasmine flowers are blooming in Fuzhou, Fujian province. "Sanfu is the busiest time for the jasmine tea industry," said Du Luwen, an inheritor of traditional jasmine tea processing techniques. "During the sanfu period, jasmine flowers contain the highest level of essential oils, which is indispensable for first-class jasmine tea."
For locals, a cup of jasmine tea, a cattail leaf fan and a Fuzhou Opera performance are all they need for a peaceful and cozy summer.