The Qingming (Pure Brightness) Festival is one of the 24 seasonal division points in China, falling on April 4-6 each year. (it takes place on April 5th this 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. This festival is meant to venerate your dearly departed.
Ching Ming rituals not only include weeding of the area around the grave, cleaning of the headstone, and replacing the wilted flowers with fresh ones, but also the lighting of incense and burning of imitation paper money. This money would then be accessible to your ancestors to spend in their afterlife. As the years went by, this tradition slowly transformed from burning stacks of paper to burning paper models of pretty much anything you can think of that would make your ancestors happy.
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.
Contact: Lily Chen
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