When Autumn Starts There is a custom to “touch the autumn” in the northern part of Yancheng, Jiangsu Province. On the eve of the Start of Autumn, folks can touch and take all kinds of fruits as they like for free in private or public gardens, and the owners will not be angry no matter how much they lose.

The custom dates back to the end of the Yuan Dynasty, when it was said that a revolutionary army appeared at the territory of the Huaihe river valley, the soldiers of which were peasants who were sick of the disturbance by the Yuan soldiers. The army had strict rules and didn’t cause any trouble to the people when they passed by. One day, the army transferred to the bank of the Huaihe river, but in order not to disturb the folks who lived there, they choose to sleep in the open air. During the night, a few soldiers were so hungry that they picked some fruits from the gardens nearby to eat. When the general found out, he decided to punish them at daybreak. However, the villagers in the area all pleaded the general to spare the soldiers, and one of them said, “you cannot regard one as a thief when takes fruits for free at the eve of Start of Autumn.” For this, the soldiers were saved, and the custom was formed ever since.

Autumn is the season of mellowness, and the fruits in the field attract loads of people waiting for the “touch autumn day” to come. Many gardeners even leave some mellow fruits on purpose in the field for the guests during the night.