The Chinese divide their seasons into five phases, with autumn often associated with decline or even death. People celebrate autumn in many ways, with the most popular activity being egg balancing. And for tourists, autumn is an excellent time to visit some of the great attractions China has to offer.
Autumn and Chinese philosophy
“In the Chinese tradition, the autumn season is associated with the color white, the sound of weeping, the emotions of both courage and sadness, the lung organ, the metal element, and a white tiger. Autumn is also connected in Chinese thought with the direction west, considered to be the direction of dreams and visions,” according to Earth Sky.
Autumn is part of a cycle of seasons that includes spring, summer, late summer, and winter. In Chinese philosophy, these five phases or elements represent not just the cycle of seasons, but also the way life generally functions. Spring is when the plants start to grow. They begin to bloom in summer, achieve completeness in late summer, wither in autumn, and rest in winter.
Life is also said to involve these different phases. While Autumn is associated with the emotion of sadness, summer is linked with joy. And just as autumn is followed by summer and summer is followed by autumn, so too will life’s sad moments be followed by happy ones and vice versa. Nature and life are viewed as one big cycle.
Such a comprehensive philosophy enables Chinese to view change as a natural occurrence rather than an aberration. As such, Chinese society has traditionally believed in accepting change and moving with the flow rather than fighting it.
In autumn, the Chinese observe a custom called “egg standing.” As the name suggests, people try to make an egg stand on end. This is usually done on the autumn equinox and spring equinox, when both day and night are said to be of equal time in the northern and southern hemispheres. The Earth’s axis is also in a relative balance. These conditions are believed to make it easier to make eggs stand. Hence, the tradition.
A popular festival in autumn is the sacrifice to the moon, which is usually observed during mid-Autumn. “Originally, the festival of sacrificing to the moon was set on the Autumnal Equinox day. But since it is not a fixed day in lunar August, there might be no full moon on the Autumnal Equinox. During the festival, if there was no moon to make sacrifices to, it would spoil the fun. Thus, the day was changed to the Mid-Autumn Day,” according to China Culture.
Best places to visit in autumn
The Great Wall is an excellent place to visit during this season. When walking along the sides of the wall, you will see a continuous line of red- and yellow-colored trees. Badaling is a popular section to visit during autumn.
For people who like to take a trek into the mountains, Huangshan (also known as The Yellow Mountain) is highly recommended. Every autumn, the entire mountain range is covered with leaves of various hues, giving you a spectacular sight.
And if you are a panda lover, visiting Chengdu during autumn is a must. Since baby pandas are typically born in august, you will surely be treated to lots of tiny, adorable panda cubs.