立夏是中国传统二十四节气（the 24 traditional Chinese solar terms）中的第七个节气，今年的立夏从5月5日开始至20日结束。立夏标志着夏季的开始，明人《莲生八戕》中说：“孟夏之日，天地始交，万物并秀。”，在此期间，全国大部分地区，温度迅速上升。
立夏的英文是 “The Beginning of Summer”, 咱们二十四节气中，夏天的节气有5个，除了“立夏”，还有 “小满”、“芒种”、“夏至”、“小暑”、“大暑”。
立夏：Beginning of summer
芒种：Grain in ear
In ancient China, people divided lixia into three periods—first period: the sounding of the crickets; second period: the earthworms coming out; third period: the budding of the cucumber blossom. From this description, we can see that when lixia begins, the first thing that occurs is the chirping of the crickets (or some people say frogs) in the fields, then the activity of the earthworms is seen and last the vine of the cucumber begins its rapid growth.
Astronomers indicate that during the solar period of lixia, summer crops enter their final growth stages, the winter wheat begins its flowering and ripening stage, rape enters its final growth stage and the summer harvest is tentatively determined. As a result, the farmers have the proverb, “Summer harvest may be evaluated since lixia.”
迎夏 Greeting the Start of Summer
The term Start of Summer was originated at the end of the Warring States Period (239 BC). Since it is a crucial time for the harvest of summer crops such as wheat and canola, ancient Chinese emperors in different dynasties attached great importance to the Start of Summer.
In the Zhou Dynasty (1050-221 BC), the emperor led his officials to stage a welcome rite for the Start of Summer and encouraged his residents to seize the key time to do farm work. It's said that most of the decorations were arranged in the color red, including the emperor and the officials' dress, the jade pendants, the horses and the flags, in order to show respect to the god of summer and pray for a good harvest.
As an old Chinese saying goes, "hanging an egg on children's chests can prevent them from getting summer diseases", parents will prepare boiled eggs and put them in a knitted bag before hanging them on their children's chests.
When at school, children gather together to play egg competitions by colliding each other's eggs in pairs and the one whose egg is not broken wins.
The custom of weighing people at the Start of Summer originated from the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280) and prevails in South China today. It was believed this practice would bring health and good luck to the people weighted.
After lunch on the day of Start of Summer, people would suspend a stool or basket from a beam. The young and old took turns to get weighed while the person calculating the weight would offer good wishes and auspicious words. It is said those who were weighed would stay healthy in the hot summer and those who weren't would suffer illness.
Traditional Chinese medicine believes that people shall keep pace with changes in the weather and bring attention to the hearts’ health at the transition of spring and summer. With the beginning of summer, the weather turns hot, and traditional Chinese medicine also believes that “summer-heat tends to injure the vitality” and “summer-heat is likely to impatient the heart.” Thus, during this season, people should nurse their bodies and build up the hearts’ health. Especially the elderly need to consciously take good care of their emotion, keep calm and happy, and avoid extreme excitement or sorrow which might hurt the health.
During early summer, the elderly are easy to get obstruction of blood circulation. It is recommended to eat onions and drink a small amount of alcohol in the morning to promote blood and heart vessel circulation so as to prevent the occurrence of heart disease. After Lixia, when the weather gradually turns hot, it is better to eat a light diet with digestible and vitamin-rich foods rather than a high-fat and spicy diet.
The Lakeside Temple at Dawn
The uncommon West Lake in the midst of sixth moon;
Displays a scenery to other months unknown.
Green lotus leaves outspread as far as boundless sky;
Pink lotus blossoms take from sunshine a new dye.
A Little Pond
The fountain trickles silently fout of its holes.
The trees give a sweet shade over the pond.
As soon as the lotuses show their buds.
The dragonflies have come there to stand.
Written while Drunken in the Lake View Pavilion on the 27th Day of the Lunar Month
Dark clouds like spilt ink over the mountains quiet;
Raindrops like bouncing pearls into the boat run riot.
A sudden rolling gale dispels clouds far and nigh,
Calmed water in the lake becomes one with the sky.
The Moon over the West River
Home-going at Night from the Yellow Sand Bridge
Startled by magpies leaving the branch in moonlight,
I hear cicadas shrill in the breeze at midnight.
The rice fields’ sweet smell promises a bumper year;
Listen, how frogs’ croaks please the ear!
Beyond the clouds seven or eight stars twinkle;
Before the hills two or three raindrops sprinkle.
There is an inn beside the village temple. Look!
The winding path leads to the hut beside the brook.
许渊冲先生的译文也堪称古诗词英译的典范，尤其是“七八个星天外，两三点雨山前”，译为“Beyond the clouds seven or eight stars twinkle; Before the hills two or three raindrops sparkle”，神形兼具，韵味十足。