Author: Diandian Jiang
Qingming (清明节 Qīng míng jié), or Ching Ming, is a traditional Chinese festival celebrated on the first day of the fifth lunar month (between April 4 and 6 every year) which, according to the lunar calendar, is the day spring will return to most parts of China. It is an important day of remembering and paying respect to those that passed away.
Relevant customs of the Qingming Festival include sweeping tombs to worship ancestors, visiting family members’ tombs to honour them by offering food, tea, wine and incense, burning paper money and kowtowing. It is also tradition to wear soft willow branches on their head and place them on gates and front doors to ward off evil spirits. During the occasion, people traditionally eat “Qingtuan”, a glutinous rice dumpling dyed green with mugwort juice or wormwood grass.
The Qingming Festival originated from an ancient sacrificial ceremony that began with the Zhou Dynasty over 2,000 years ago. Originally, “Qingming” was a very important concept of the sun which was gradually merged with the Cold Food Festival.
During the Cold Food Festival, people were not allowed to use fire and only had cold food, This was established to commemorate Jie Zhitui (7th century) a man of noted loyalty who helped his lord in exile and, once his lord’s power was restored, Jie Zhitui refused all offered political positions and escaped. His lord set a fire to force him out and unwillingly killed him. Then, to commemorate him, his lord decreed the day he died as the original Tomb sweeping Day.