Saturday, 5 April 2014

Qingming – 清明节 2014

Qingming 2014 falls on Saturday, 5 April 2014. Due to different traditions in different places, some celebrate the Tomb Sweeping on the Qing Ming day itself, while for some Chinese, the date for celebration depends on family decision, any day from 21 March 2014 to 5 April 2014 is allowed.

Introduction:
Qingming means Clear and Bright and refers to the clear and sunny spring weather that comes around this time. It is traditionally a time for family descendents to tend to the graves of their departed ancestors and to make offerings of food, incense, and paper offerings such as spirit money and paper replicas of material goods.

Temples, both Buddhist and Taoist, also perform ceremonies at this time to dedicate spiritual merit to the deceased ancestors of sponsors. Families take this opportunity to clean and inspect the gravesite by removing any weeds or trash, pruning and replacing any nearby trees and plants if necessary, and looking to see if any damage to the tombstone needs repair. The upkeep and maintenance of the gravesite is considered an important responsibility of family descendents and reflects the deep cultural values of ancestor veneration and filial piety of the Chinese people. Thus, this day is also known as Tomb Sweeping Day (掃墓日 Saomu Ri), and some people in the West describe it as “Ancestors Day,” “Chinese Memorial Day,” or “Spring Remembrance Day.”

Qingming Festival is celebrated by people of Chinese ancestry in countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, China and Vietnam. Some people carry willow branches with them on Qingming, or put willow branches on their gates and/or front doors. They believed that willow branches help ward off lost and mischievous souls that wander around on Qingming.

Other practices during Qingming that are not that common in Singapore but are common elsewhere, include family outings, family get-togethers, clan feats, starting spring plowing, singing, dancing, starting courting between young people, and flying kites in the shapes of animals or characters from Chinese opera.

History:
Historically, Qingming originated from Hanshi Day, a memorial day for Jie Zitui where only cold food is eaten. Jie Zitui ( c636 BC) was one of many followers of Duke Wen of Jin. Once, during Wen’s 19 years of exile, they had no food and Jie prepared some meat soup for Wen. Wen enjoyed it a lot and wondered where Jie had obtained the soup. It turned out Jie had cut a piece of meat from his own thigh to make the soup.

In 732 BC, Emperor Xuanzong of China sought to curb the practice of extravagant and ostentatiously expensive ceremonies in honor of their ancestors, and declared that respects could be formally paid at ancestors’ graves only on Qingming.

Practice:
The Qingming Festival in Malaysia and Singapore normally starts early in the morning (in the 10 days preceding and succeeding Qingming Day) by paying respect to distant ancestors from China at home altars. This is followed by visiting the graves of their close relatives.

The ritual starts with praying to the Earth God and offering him some food to eat. The next step would be to offer prayers and food to their dear departed. Families would then ask for worldly wishes from the dear departed. It is believed that ancestors will protect their descendants from the other world, and as such will try to grant the wishes of the living.

Finally, families will burn paper money as offerings to their dear departed. It is believed that the departed need money and other material possessions in the afterlife too. It is for this very reason that paper iPads, houses, cars and such are burnt during Seventh Month (and sometimes on Qingming).

A cartoon depicting ancestor veneration rites at a grave site(Image: Source unknown)

A cartoon depicting a family pruning the grass surrounding the grave of their ancestor (Image: Source unknown)

Paranormal Observations:
On Qingming, some report seeing their departed returning to Earth. Some others report being touched and disturbed in other ways by lost souls. Lost souls are deceased who do not receive prayers from their descendants and as such wander around creating mischief. However, reports of these paranormal activities are few and far between. Such reports are more common during the Seventh Month, also known as the Hungry Ghost Month.

One paranormal issue of contention during Qingming is whether or not families should bring back the food that was offered to their ancestors to eat later at home. While many families do so, some believe that this food is not supposed to be consumed by the living. The deceased are of “Yin” energy while the living are “Yang” energy. When food are offered to “Yin” entities their energy are transferred to the food which indirectly when the living consumes it they also take in the “Yin” energy. A living person who ingests the “Yin” energy of the dead might feel agitated, drained, exhausted or encounter some obstacles in life.

This logic follows from the practice of NOT eating food which is offered to ghosts or spirits during the Seventh Month. As a corollary, it is argued, food offered to ancestors should also not be eaten.

Conclusion:
Qingming is an integral part of Chinese societies worldwide. It is a day of remembrance of dear departed, and a day of reflection for the living. Paranormal activities are not widely a feature of this day, as compared to the more “fertile” Seventh Month.


Qingming Festival (Tomb-sweeping Day)
Spring Outing during Qingming Festival


Introduction
Qingming Festival (also known as Pure Brightness Festival or Tomb-sweeping Day), which falls on either April 4th or 5th of the gregorian calendar, is one of the Chinese Twenty-four Solar Terms. From that date temperatures begin to rise and rainfall increases, indicating that it is the crucial time for plowing and sowing in the spring. The festival therefore has a close relationship with agriculture. However, it is not only a seasonal symbol; it is also a day of paying respect to the dead, a spring outing, and other activities.
Origin
It is said that the Qingming Festival was originally held to commemorate a loyal man living in the Spring and Autumn Period (770 - 476 BC), named Jie Zitui. Jie cut a piece of meat from his own leg in order to save his hungry lord who was forced to go into exile when the crown was in jeopardy. The lord came back to his position nineteen years later, and forgot Jie Zitui but later felt ashamed and decided to reward him. However, Jie had blocked himself up in a mountain with his mother. In order to find Jie, the lord ordered that the mountain should be set on fire. Later Jie was found dead with his mother. In order to commemorate Jie, the lord ordered that the day Jie died was Hanshi (Cold Food) Festival - the day that only cold food could be eaten.
The second year, when the lord went to the mountain to sacrifice to Jie, he found willows revived, so he gave instructions that the day after Hanshi Festival was to be Qingming Festival. Later, the two festivals were combined as one.
Traditional Customs
Qingming Festival is a time of many different activities, among which the main ones are tomb sweeping, taking a spring outing, and flying kites. Some other lost customs like wearing willow branches on the head and riding on swings have added infinite joy in past days. It is a combination of sadness and happiness.
Tomb Sweeping
Tomb sweeping is regarded as the most important custom in the Qingming Festival from which the name of Tomb-sweeping day is got. Cleaning the tomb and paying respect to the dead person with offerings are the two important parts of remembering the past relatives. Weeds around the tomb are cleared away and fresh soil is added to show care of the dead. The dead person's favourite food and wine are taken to sacrifice to them, along with paper resembling money. This is all burned in the hope that the deceased are not lacking food and money. Kowtow before the tablets set up for the dead are made.
Today, with cremation taking over from burying, the custom has been extremely simplified in cities. Only flowers are presented to the dead relatives and revolutionary martyrs. No matter how respect is shown, good prayers for the deceased are expressed.
Spring Outing
Not only is it a day for commemorating the dead, is it also a time for people to enjoy themselves. During March, everything in nature takes on a new look, as trees turn green, flowers blossom, and the sun shines brightly. It is a fine time to go out and to appreciate the beautiful scenes of nature. This custom can be traced back to the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907) and followed by each dynasty later till today. So visitors can be seen everywhere during the month of the festival.
Spring outings not only add joy to life but also promote a healthy body and mind.
Flying Kites
Flying kites is an activity favored by many people during the Qingming Festival. Kites are not only flown during the day time but also in the evening. Little lanterns are tied to the kite or to the string that holds the kite. And when the kite is flying in the sky, the lanterns look like twinkling stars that add unique scenery to the sky during the night. What makes flying kites during this day special is that people cut the string while the kite is in the sky to let it fly free. It is said this brings good luck and that diseases can be eliminated by doing this.
All in all, the Qingming Festival is an occasion of unique characteristics, integrating sorrowful tears to the dead with the continuous laughter from the spring outing.

read more


Qing Ming 清明节 – The Chinese Tomb Sweeping Festival



QingMing or Tomb Sweeping Day is a Chinese festival during which Chinese people sweep and clean the tombs of their ancestors. Besides Tomb Sweeping Day, some countries call this festival as Qingming Festival, Ancestors Day, Pure Brightness Festival, Chinese Memorial Day, Cheng Beng and many others.

When is Qing Ming 2014?
Qingming 2014 falls on Saturday, 5 April 2014. Due to different traditions in different places, some celebrate the Tomb Sweeping on the Qing Ming 2013 day itself, while for some Chinese, the date for celebration depends on family decision, any day from 21 March 2014 to 5 April 2014 is allowed.

How to know when is Qing Ming Festival?
Qing Ming or Tomb Sweeping Day always falls on the 5th solar term – April 4 or April 5. In fact, Qing Ming occurs on 104th day after the Chinese winter solstice or Dongzhi festival.

The Origin of Qing Ming
The beginning of Qing Ming was based on a sad story about a man whose name was Jie Zitui, a faithful servant of a Duke named Wen. Jie was so faithful that when his lord and him could hardly find any food, he prepared a meat soup made of his own thigh. His lord found out that Jie had sacrificed his own thigh for him, then he promised Jie that once he succeeded in becoming King, he would reward Jie for his loyalty.

Jie who didn’t want any reward resigned not long after his lord became a Duke and lived in a forest with his mother. The Duke looked for Jie, but he couldn’t find him so that he ordered his servants to burn the forest in order to force Jie out. Unfortunately, the fire didn’t only force Jie to get out of the forest but also killed him. Then, the remorseful Duke Wen ordered the villagers not to use fire and eat only cold food for three days to commemorate Jie’s death.

The Tradition of Qingming
Previously, people celebrates Qingming Day by eating cold food, but now the traditions develop into sweeping the ancestors’ tombs, offering food and drinks, and even presenting some expensive things like bag or gadgets on the tombs. Those things are meant to be received by the deceased ancestors in their realm.

The other traditions are done by farmers who put a willow branch in front of the doors or gates of their houses to wipe out the evil spirit. The last common thing done by people during the Tomb Sweeping Day is flying colorful kites. Usually, people also put small lanterns in the kites so that the kites will flicker on the sky.

Despite the seemingly sad history of Qingming, Chinese worldwide generally welcome the celebration of the festival as it is also an occasion of family reunion. Qingming 2014 will be a popular festival in China, Hongkong, Taiwan, Macau, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia.

Qingming is also known as Ching Ming (same pronunciation).

read more

Introduction of Qingming Festival

The Qingming Festival (simplified Chinese: 清明节; traditional Chinese: 清明節; pinyin: Qīngmíng jié, Ching Ming Festival in Hong Kong), Clear Bright Festival, Ancestors Day or Tomb Sweeping Day is a traditional Chinese festival on the 104th day after the winter solstice (or the 15th day from the Spring Equinox), usually occurring around April 5 of the Gregorian calendar. Astronomically it is also a solar term. The Qingming festival falls on the first day of the fifth solar term, named Qingming. Its name denotes a time for people to go outside and enjoy the greenery of springtime and tend to the graves of departed ones.

Qingming has been regularly observed as a statutory public holiday in Taiwan and in the Chinese jurisdictions of Hong Kong and Macau. Its observance was reinstated as a public holiday in mainland China in 2008.

Activities in Qingming Festival - Tomb Sweeping
Tomb sweeping is regarded as the most important custom in the Qingming Festival from which the name of Tomb-sweeping day is got. Cleaning the tomb and paying respect to the dead person with offerings are the two important parts of remembering the past relatives. Weeds around the tomb are cleared away and fresh soil is added to show care of the dead. The dead person's favourite food and wine are taken to sacrifice to them, along with paper resembling money. This is all burned in the hope that the deceased are not lacking food and money. Kowtow before the tablets set up for the dead are made.

Today, with cremation taking over from burying, the custom has been extremely simplified in cities. Only flowers are presented to the dead relatives and revolutionary martyrs. No matter how respect is shown, good prayers for the deceased are expressed.

Kite Flying
Flying kites is also an important custom enjoyed by many people, young and old, during the Qingming Festival. Kites are not only flown during the day but also in the evening when little colored lanterns are tied to the kites or to the strings that hold the kites. When kites fly in the evening, the lanterns look like twinkling stars that add uniqueness to the sky. In the past, people cut the string to let the kite fly freely. This custom is believed to bring good luck and eliminate diseases.

Sweet Green Rice Balls
The sweet green rice ball is a Qingming Festival (Tomb Sweeping Day) food popular in Jiangsu and Zhejiang Provinces. It is also a must-have offering at ancestral rituals in the south of the Yangtze River. The custom of making sweet green rice balls dates back to the Zhou Dynasty over 2,000 years ago. One or two days before the Qingming Festival were designated as "cold food days", during which hot cooking is banned.


Ching Ming 2014 – Chinese Tomb Sweeping Day

Ching Ming, Qing Ming, or the Clear Bright Festival is Chinese festival to remember the dead, by visiting and cleaning grave sites of the deceased. Often, people also will bring food and drink as offering to the ancestors.

When is Ching Ming 2014?
Ching Ming 2014 falls on Saturday, 5 April 2014. However the tomb visiting is often done before that. Vernal equinox (or spring equinox) on 20 March 2014 marks the middle of spring and signify when people can start tomb visiting ritual.

Ching Ming 2014 Celebration
While Ching Ming is celebrating death, it is undoubtedly a festive occasion for Chinese. Extended families often plan the grave visit together, thus it becomes family outings and often marked as family reunion. In the past, people will start the spring plowing, while singing and dancing, on the Ching Ming Day. To some, Ching Ming Day is often as important or even more important than the Chinese New Year.

In South East Asia, Ching Ming 2014 will be celebrated by chinese in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore.

Happy Ching Ming 2014!

read more
Qingming Festival



The 1st day of the 5th solar term is the Qingming (Chinese: 清明节, 清明節) for people to go outside and enjoy the greenery of springtime and to tend to the graves of departed ones. Qingming Festival is the 15th day after the Spring Equinox occurring around April 5 of the Gregorian calendar.

The Qingming Festival is commonly translated as the Clear Bright Festival or the Tomb Sweeping Day.

The Chinese Qingming Festival falls on the following dates in the Gregorian calendar:
Year 2010MondayApril 5, 2010Chinese Qingming Festival
Year 2011TuesdayApril 5, 2011Chinese Qingming Festival
Year 2012WednesdayApril 4, 2012Chinese Qingming Festival
Year 2013TuesdayApril 4, 2013Chinese Qingming Festival
Year 2014SaturdayApril 5, 2014Chinese Qingming Festival
Year 2015SundayApril 5, 2015Chinese Qingming Festival
Origin
During the Spring and Autumn Period (Chinese: 春秋战国时期), the Duke Wen of Jin (Chinese: 晋文公) created the Hanshi Festival (Chinese: 寒食节) to commemorate the loyalty of his friend and servant Jie Zhitui (Chinese: 介之推). On Hanshi Festival, the day before the solar term Qingming (Chinese: 清明), people were not allowed to use fires to cook or heat up food (eat cold food only), and hang willow branches on doors to show respect to Jie Zhitui, because he was killed with his mother by a fire next to a willow tree. The fire was actually set up by Duke Wen hoping to force Jie Zhitui to come out of his hiding place in the mountains.

The Qingming Festival itself was created by the Tang Emperor Xuanzong in 732. It is said that because the wealthy held too many expensive, elaborate ancestor-worshipping ceremonies, in a needed effort to lower this expense, Emperor Xuanzong declared that respects could be formally paid at ancestor's graves only on Qingming.

Gradually, people combined traditions of the Hanshi Festival into the Qingming Festival and kept as a one-day festival.

Activities
The most important activaty on the Qingming Festival is tomb sweeping to remember and honour one's ancestors at grave sites. Young and old pray before the ancestors, sweep the tombs and offer food, tea, wine, chopsticks, (joss) paper accessories, and/or libation to the ancestors. The rites are very important to most Chinese and especially farmers.

Some people carry willow branches with them, or put willow branches on their gates and/or front doors. They think that willow branches help ward off the evil ghosts that wander on Qingming.

People also go on family outings, start the spring plowing, sing, dance, and Qingming is a time where young couples start courting.

Another popular thing to do is fly kites (in shapes of animals, or characters from Chinese opera).

Qingming Poem
Qingming was frequently mentioned in Chinese literature. Among these, the most famous one is probably Du Mu's poem (simply titled "Qingming"):
    《清明》 (唐) 杜牧

    清明时节雨纷纷,
    路上行人欲断魂。
    借问酒家何处有?
    牧童遥指杏花村。
English translation
    A drizzling rain falls like tears on the Mourning Day;
    The mourner's heart is breaking on his way.
    Where can a hostel be found to drown his sadness?
    A cowherd points to Xing Hua village in the distance. 

read more


Qingming Jie



Ching Ming Festival, known as Qingming in Chinese, is celebrated in China, Taiwan, Hong-Kong and Macau. The festival is celebrated in the fifth solar term of the Chinese calendar, which usually falls around first week of April according to the Gregorian calendar. The festival commemorates the on-set of spring and is the time when people remember their ancestors by visiting their graves.

The festival is said to have originated from Hanshi Day, a day of having only cold food in remembrance of Jie Zitui. Jie was the person who helped Wen during his period of exile before he became the duke. Folklore has it that once when Wen had nothing to eat, Jie cut a piece of meat from his own thigh and cooked it for Wen. Pleased with the dedication of Jie, Wen promised to reward him someday. However, when he became the Duke, he forgot to reward Jie. Feeling guilty for not keeping his promise, Wen went to the forest in search of Jie, and when he couldn’t find him, he ordered his troops to set the forest on fire to force out Jie. Jie died in the fire along with his mother. In order to repent for his mistake and in memory of this friend, Wen then ordered cooking without fire for three days.

Another possible story associated with the origin of this festival goes back to more than 2000 years ago. In the olden days, the Chinese people used to spend extravagantly in order to pay homage to the dead. In order to curb this extravagant spending, Emperor Xuanzong in 732 ordered that homage to the dead can only be paid on Qingming. Hence, the festival was established.

The Qingming festival is a day for the Chinese to remember the dead. The Chinese people visit the tomb of the dead on this day and offer food items, willow branches, accessories and other things to the dead. This ritual stems from a long held belief of life after death in the Chinese. People also put willow branches on the main gates of their house to ward off evil on this day. Other than that, families can be seen enjoying a picnic. Gifting flowers to each other instead of bursting firecrackers is another tradition associated with this day.

This day is also significant with respect to the tea culture in the Chinese. Tea leaves picked before the Qingming festival are considered premium leaves and sold at a much higher rate than other tea leaves.


Qingming Festival


Qingming or Tomb Sweeping Day is a day dedicated to paying respect to family ancestors. The holiday usually falls in April and on the 15th day of the spring equinox.

Families travel to their ancestors’ graves to clean the sites, plant new flowers, pay respects and to offer food. The festival was merged with the Pure Brightness Festival which originated during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC). According to legend, a loyal official by the name of Jie Zitui was overlooked by Emperor when rewards for loyalty were being awarded. Jie fled to the mountains with his mother.

The Emperor was reminded of his mistake and ordered Jie to be found and properly acknowledged for his loyal service. However, Jie was nowhere to be found. Some of the officials suggested that the Emperor set fire to the mountain to smoke Jie down. But after the fires were extinguished Jie and his mother’s bodies were found beside a burnt willow tree. Overcome with shame, the Emperor ordered that day to be a day of eating cold food (Hanshi Festival) in memory of Jie. Only cold foods could be eaten on that day, and no fires were to be lit.

The following year, the Emperor went back to the willow tree which to his surprise was in full bloom with beautiful white flowers. The festival was then renamed Pure Brightness Festival. The two festivals were merged and later the tradition of commemorating one’s ancestors were incorporated to what is known as Qingming today.

Since the festival occurs at the onset of spring, celebrating the festival also means celebrating the arrival of spring after a long winter. Seeds are sown, kites are flown and excursions into the countryside are commonplace. If you are travelling in China or other Asian countries with large Chinese populations, it’s a good idea to bear in mind that roads can be quite congested and public transportation quite crowded.


Qingming Festival



The Qingming Festival (simplified Chinese: 清明节; traditional Chinese: 清明節; Mandarin Pinyin: Qīngmíng Jié; Ching Ming Festival in Hong Kong and Macau, Vietnamese: Tết Thanh Minh, Ryukyuan:shīmī) Pure Brightness Festival or Clear Bright Festival, Ancestors Day or Tomb Sweeping Day is a traditional Chinese festival on the 104th day after the winter solstice (or the 15th day from the Spring Equinox), usually occurring around April 5 of the Gregorian calendar. Astronomically it is also a solar term. The Qingming festival falls on the first day of the fifth solar term, named Qingming. Its name denotes a time for people to go outside and enjoy the greenery of springtime (踏青 Tàqīng, "treading on the greenery") and tend to the graves of departed ones.

The Qingming Festival is an opportunity for celebrants to remember and honour their ancestors at grave sites. Young and old pray before the ancestors, sweep the tombs and offer food, tea, wine, chopsticks, joss paper accessories, and/or libations to the ancestors. The rites have a long tradition in Asia, especially among farmers. Some people carry willow branches with them on Qingming, or put willow branches on their gates and/or front doors. They believe that willow branches help ward off the evil spirit that wanders on Qingming.

On Qingming people go on family outings, start the spring plowing, sing, and dance. Qingming is also the time when young couples start courting. Another popular thing to do is to fly kites in the shapes of animals or characters from Chinese opera Another common practice is to carry flowers instead of burning paper, incense or firecrackers

In most areas of China observance of sensitive events are suppressed and all public mention of such events is taboo. In Taiwan this national holiday is observed on April 5 because the ruling Kuomintang moved it to that date in commemoration of the death of Chiang Kai-shek on April 5.

Despite having no holiday status, the overseas Chinese communities in Southeast Asian nations, such as those in Singapore and Malaysia, take this festival seriously and observe its traditions faithfully. Some Qingming rituals and ancestral veneration decorum observed by the oversea Chinese in Malaysia and Singapore can be dated back to Ming and Qing dynasties, as the oversea communities were not affected by the Cultural Revolution in Mainland China. Qingming in Malaysia is an elaborate family function or a clan feast (usually organized by the respective clan association) to commemorate and honour recently deceased relatives at their grave sites and distant ancestors from China at home altars, clan temples or makeshift altars in Buddhist or Taoist temples.

For the oversea Chinese community, the Qingming festival is very much a family celebration and, at the same time, a family obligation. They see this festival as a time of reflection and to honour and give thanks to their forefathers. Overseas Chinese normally visit the graves of their recently deceased relatives on the nearest weekend to the actual date. According to the ancient custom, grave site veneration is only feasible ten days before and after the Qingming Festival. If the visit is not on the actual date, normally veneration before Qingming is encouraged.

The Qingming Festival in Malaysia and Singapore normally starts early in the morning by paying respect to distant ancestors from China at home altars. This is followed by visiting the graves of close relatives in the country. Some follow the concept of filial piety to the extent of visiting the graves of their ancestors in mainland China. Traditionally, the family will burn spirit money and paper replicas of material goods such as cars, homes, phones and paper servants. In Chinese culture, it is believed that people still need all of those things in the afterlife.

Then family members start take turns to kowtow three to nine times (depending on the family adherence to traditional values) before the tomb of the ancestors. The Kowtowing ritual in front of the grave is performed in the order of patriarchal seniority within the family. After the ancestor worship at the grave site, the whole family or the whole clan feast on the food and drink they brought for the worship either at the site or in nearby gardens in the memorial park, signifying family reunion with the ancestors. Another ritual related to the festival is the cockfightas well as being available within that historic and cultural context at Kaifeng Millennium City Park (Qingming Riverside Landscape Garden).

Hanshi, the day before Qingming, was created by Chong'er, the Duke Wen of the state of Jin during the Spring and Autumn period. The festival was established after Chong'er accidentally burned to death his friend and servant Jie Zhitui (介之推) (or Jie Zitui) and Jie Zitui's mother. Chong'er ordered the hills in which they were hiding set on fire in the hope that Jie Zitui would return to his service, but the fire killed Jie and his mother. Because of this, people were not allowed to use fires to heat up food and the date became named Hanshi. Eventually, 3000 years ago, the Hanshi "celebration" was combined with the Qingming festival and later abandoned by most people.

read more

Qingming Festival


The Qingming (Pure Brightness) Festival is one of the 24 seasonal division points in China, falling on April 4-6 each year. After the festival, the temperature will rise up and rainfall increases. It is the high time for spring plowing and sowing. But the Qingming Festival is not only a seasonal point to guide farm work, it is more a festival of commemoration.

The Qingming Festival sees a combination of sadness and happiness.

This is the most important day of sacrifice. Both the Han and minority ethnic groups at this time offer sacrifices to their ancestors and sweep the tombs of the deceased. Also, they will not cook on this day and only cold food is served.

The Hanshi (Cold Food) Festival was usually one day before the Qingming Festival. As our ancestors often extended the day to the Qingming, they were later combined.

On each Qingming Festival, all cemeteries are crowded with people who came to sweep tombs and offer sacrifices. Traffic on the way to the cemeteries becomes extremely jammed. The customs have been greatly simplified today. After slightly sweeping the tombs, people offer food, flowers and favorites of the dead, then burn incense and paper money and bow before the memorial tablet.

In contrast to the sadness of the tomb sweepers, people also enjoy hope of Spring on this day. The Qingming Festival is a time when the sun shines brightly, the trees and grass become green and nature is again lively. Since ancient times, people have followed the custom of Spring outings. At this time tourists are everywhere.

People love to fly kites during the Qingming Festival. Kite flying is actually not limited to the Qingming Festival. Its uniqueness lies in that people fly kites not during the day, but also at night. A string of little lanterns tied onto the kite or the thread look like shining stars, and therefore, are called "god's lanterns."

The Qingming Festival is also a time to plant trees, for the survival rate of saplings is high and trees grow fast later. In the past, the Qingming Festival was called "Arbor Day". But since 1979, "Arbor Day" was settled as March 12 according to the Gregorian calendar.


Tomb Sweeping Festival

A woman selects artificial plum and cherry blossoms in Yuyuantan Park on Qingming Festival (Tomb Sweeping Day) Apr. 4 in Beijing, China. People pay respect to their ancestors on this day

Tomb Sweeping Day (清明节, Qīngmíng jié) is a one-day holiday that has been celebrated in China for centuries.

What Is Tomb Sweeping Day?
Tomb Sweeping Day is a one-day Chinese holiday to commemorate and pay respect to a person’s ancestors. On Tomb Sweeping Day, families visit the gravesite of their ancestors to show their respect. Tomb Sweeping Day is also known as Clear Brightness Festival and Taqing Festival.

The alternative name Clear Brightness Festival comes from the weather, which is usually clear and bright during the third lunar month (April) when Tomb Sweeping Day is celebrated.

In addition to visiting cemeteries, people also go for walks in the countryside, plant willows, and fly kites on Tomb Sweeping Day. Those who cannot travel back to their ancestors’ gravesites may opt to pay their respects at martyrs parks to pay homage to revolutionary martyrs.

How Is Tomb Sweeping Day Celebrated?
Tomb Sweeping Day is celebrated by families reuniting and traveling to their ancestors’ gravesites to pay their respects. First, weeds are removed from the gravesite and the tombstone is cleaned and swept. Any necessary repairs are also made. New earth is added and willow branches are placed atop the gravesite.

Next, joss sticks are placed by the grave and lit and an offering of food and paper money is placed at the tomb. Paper money is burned while family members show their respect by bowing to their ancestors. Fresh flowers are placed at the tomb and some families also plant willow trees. In ancient times, five-colored paper was placed underneath a stone on the grave to signify that someone had visited the grave and that it had not been abandoned.

As cremation is gaining popularity, families continue the tradition by making offerings at ancestral altars or by placing wreaths and flowers at martyrs’ shrines. Due to hectic work schedules and the long distance some families must travel, some families opt to mark the festival earlier or later in April over a long weekend or assign a few family members to make the trip on behalf of the entire family.

Once the family has paid their respects at the gravesite, some families will have a picnic at the gravesite. Then, they take advantage of the usually good weather to take a walk in the countryside, known as 踏青 (Tàqīng; hence the name Taqing Festival) and some people wear a willow twig on their heads to keep ghosts away. Another custom includes picking shepherd’s purse. Women also pick herbs and make dumplings with them and they also wear the shepherd’s purse flower in their hair.

Other traditional activities on Tomb Sweeping Day include flying kites, playing tug-of-war, and swinging on swings. It is also a good time for sowing and other agricultural activities, including planting willow trees. In the past, fires were not permitted so people celebrated by eating cold foods and drinking cold drinks.

 
 
Crematorium