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Qingming Festival of 2021 falls on April 4th, when people sweep their ancestors’ tombs and special offerings be made to the deceased. It’s also a time for a spring outing and other featured activities. On May 20th 2006, the festival was listed as one of the first national intangible cultural heritage events.

What is Qingming Festival?

Qingming Festival(Mandarin: 清明节 Qīngmíng Jié / ching-ming jyeah), also known as Pure Brightness Festival or Tomb-sweeping Day, which falls on either April 4th or 5th, is one of the ChinesTwenty-four Solar Terms. At the beginning of April, it becomes noticeably warmer and brighter, and nature is waking up in northern/central China (this happens earlier in south China). It is the time for plowing and sowing in the spring. The festival therefore closely connects with agriculture.

The day before the Qingming Festival was the traditional Chinese Cold Food Day. As time passed, the two festivals were gradually merged into one. On the day of the Cold Food Festival, people used no fire and only ate cold food. Now people in some places still have the custom of eating cold food on Qingming Festival.

Origin and History

The Qingming Festival started in the Zhou Dynasty (1046–221 BC), and has a history of over 2,500 years.

It originated from the grand ceremonies that emperors held in tribute to their ancestors. They offered sacrifices and prayed for blessings of prosperity, peace, and good harvests.

In 732BC, Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty, declared that the formal ceremony should take place before the ancestors’ graves on the day of Qingming. From then on, the rituals on this day has become popular among royal and common families, and evolved into a traditional Chinese festival.

How Do Chinese Celebrate the Qingming Festival?

Tomb Sweeping
Cleaning tomb and paying respect to the dead are the two most important on this day. Weeds around the tomb are cleared away and fresh soil is added. Special offerings to the dead are put in front of the tomb including food, drinks and flowers. Kowtow are also made.

Spring Outing
The beginning of April refers to the arrival of spring in most parts of China. The Qingming Festival is a time to go out and enjoy nature.

Flying Kites
Flying kites is an activity favored by many people during the Qingming Festival. This is done during the day and in the evening. Little lanterns are tied to the kite or to the string. And when the kite is flying in the sky at ninght, the lanterns look like twinkling stars.

Foods for Qingming Festival

The traditional Qingming Festival food include sweet green rice balls, Qingming cakes, and peach blossom porridge.

Sweet green rice balls are a mixture of glutinous rice powder and green vegetable juice and stuffed with sweetened bean paste. Sweet green rice balls are jade-green in color, glutinous in taste, and sweet in aroma.

Qingming Cake is crispy and fried, made of wheat flour or glutinous rice flour, eggs, sesame, onion, salt, and others. 

Peach blossom porridge is a kind of porridge cooked with fresh peach blossom and rice.

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