Qingming – Festival of Pure Brightness – 清明節

The Qingming Festival takes place on April 4, 5, or 6th – whichever is the 104th day after the winter solstice. It’s celebrated in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

Qingming has many names and spellings: Qingming, Ching Ming, Ch’ing Ming, Qing Ming Jie. In English it’s been called Clear Brightness Festival, Remembrance of Ancestors Day, Grave Sweeping Day, and Spring Festival.

Qingming is a festival to honor the dead – similar in some ways to The Day of the Dead in Mexico. It’s thought that it’s important to keep ancestors happy in order to have good luck. Qingming is a good occasion to fulfill this obligation.

First, people go to the graves of their family members and clean them. They sweep away debris, pull up weeds and sometimes plant flowers.

I asked Ray Lee about what he did for Ching Ming Festival growing up in Hong Kong. He said, “That’s when we would go to the grave site of our grandparents and leave flowers for them.”

Hanchao from China said she would also go and clean off the graves of her relatives who had passed away. Sometimes her family would burn paper money. The money is for the deceased to use in the afterlife. (It’s not actual currency – it’s called spirit money.) It’s also traditional to burn incense.

Photo of Chinese Paper Money

People also put out food and drink near the tombstone for their ancestors. Hanchao said, “We put steamed buns, fruits, and wine and food at the grave, that the people who passed away liked when they were alive, and we light incense.”

Qingming is also a day to celebrate the Spring. After tending the grave and offering food, the family will sometimes have a picnic and enjoy the fresh air. People sometimes play games and fly kites.

Please feel free to let us know what your family and friends would do for Qingming in the comments below.

-Lisa

This article was posted on Thursday, March 29th, 2007 at 11:21 am and is filed under China, Chinese, Ching Ming Festival, Countries & Cultures, Customs and Traditions, Holidays Around the World, Hong Kong, Languages, Mama Lisa, Qingming, Taiwan. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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