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Qingming Festival the Tomb Sweeping Day

Qingming Festival

Qingming is one of the 24 Solar Terms in the Traditional Chinese Calendar and one of the most important festivals in China to worship spring, honor ancestors, sweep tombs, and go hiking.

When Is the Qingming Festival?


Since it is one of the Solar Terms, the date of the Qingming Festival differs each year.


Nowadays, it usually is on the 4th, 5th, or 6th of April of the Gregorian Calendar.

When and How did the Qingming Festival Originate?


Qingming is a solar term close to two important ancient festivals: Cold Food Festival and Shangsi Festival, which were all in early March in Traditional Chinese Calendar.


Since the Tang Dynasty (618 — 907), the customs and traditions of Cold Food and the Shangsi Festival merged into and formed the Qingming Festival.

Qingming Festival

Cold Food Festival


Since the Neolithic period, to avoid wildfire, people needed to extinguish the fire that they obtained in the last year and get a new fire in the spring of the new year during a grand sacrifice ceremony. 


During this fire-free period, people could only eat cold food. 


Another origin story is that eating cold food on a specific day was under the command of Ji Chonger (about 697 BC — 628 BC), the Duke Wen of Jin. This was to memorize Jie Zitui (? — 636 BC), a loyal official who saved Duke Wen of Jin's life.


Therefore, Cold Food was a festival of worship.

Calligraphy of Famous Scholar Su Shi (1037 — 1101), Named on Cold Food Festival (Han Shi Tie)

Calligraphy of Su Shi (1037 — 1101), Named on Cold Food Festival (Hanshi Tie) — Taipei Palace Museum

Shangsi Festival

Shangsi Festival was on the 3rd of March in the Traditional Chinese Calendar; it used to be an essential date for ancient people to bathe in rivers and lakes, let the water take away disease and bad lucks, and a day for young people to meet.


Gradually, bathing in water became more of a ritual; the Shangsi was more popular as a day for hiking, holding feasts, and banquets around the beautiful water area.

Painting "Lan Ting Xiu Xi", A Famous Activity to Celebrate the Shangsi Festival, by Wen Huiming (1470 - 1559)

Painting "Lan Ting Xiu Xi", A Famous Activity to Celebrate the Shangsi Festival, by Wen Huiming (1470 - 1559) — Palace  Museum

How to Celebrate the Qingming Festival?


  • Visit, worship, and clean ancestors' graves;

  • Hike in nature;

  • Fly kites; 

  • Wear willow branches made decorations or put them on windows and doors;

  • Play on swings;

  • Spring plowing;

  • Paint on eggs;

  • Eat traditional food.

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