Tomb Sweeping Festival
清明节, Qīngmíng jié is a one-day holiday that has been celebrated in China for centuries. It is held 107 days after the start of winter and is celebrated on April 4 or April 5, depending on the lunar calendar.
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. The festival was originally the Cold Food Festival that began during the Early Zhou Dynasty, but it evolved into a tomb sweeping festival during the Tang Dynasty when the Tang emperor would gift fire to his officials.
The Qingming or Ching Ming Festival originally refers to as Qīngmíng Jié (literally means "Clear and Bright Festival" or "Pure Brightness Festival"), popularly known as Tomb-Sweeping Day in English, is a traditional Chinese festival on the first day of the fifth solar term of the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar. Equivalent to the 15th day after the Spring Equinox, either 4th or 5th of April in a given year.
Qingming has been regularly observed as a statutory public holiday in China and also recorded from Taiwan. Qingming Festival is when Chinese people visit the columbarium, graves or burial grounds to pray to their ancestors. An avenue for the concerned to remember and honour their ancestors at grave sites. On this day shall individual pray before the ancestors, sweep the tombs and offer food and drinks, chopsticks, joss paper accessories, carry flowers and burn incense to the ancestors.
Qingming Jie rites being largely cherished among farmers. However, people go on family outings, start the spring plowing, sing, and dance. Qingming is also a time when young couples traditionally start courting (I bet you didn't see that coming!).
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.