Everything you need to know about Qingming Festival

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This Saturday, 4th April marks China's annual QingmingJie, or Tombsweeping Day as it is known in English. This day of commemoration takes place 107 days after the start of the winter, on the 4th or 5th of April, depending on the lunar calendar and is a national holiday in China.

清明节又名“祭祖节”,是中国传统节日之一,通常在公历4月5日前后,4月4日星期六是今年的清明节。


How is it celebrated?

习俗

Qingming Jie, also known as Tagqing Jie, began in the Zhou Dynasty over 2500 years ago.. and it is traditionally a day of remembrance, where Chinese people will go outside, spend time in nature with their families and show respect to their ancestors by visiting their graves, repairing them, cleaning them and decorating them with flowers or wreaths.

Often small gifts will be left at the grave, including food, and paper money is sometimes burned whilst family members bow to their ancestors.

Sometimes willow branches are put on doors or gates to ward off wandering evil spirits, as willow is considered magical in Buddhism.

Other traditions include burning incense, flying kites, having picnics and playing sports such as swinging, Cuju (an ancient ball game in China) polo.

扫墓祭祖、踏青郊游为基本的两种形式。清明祭祖,按照习俗人们会和家人一起去给已故的亲人整修坟墓、叩头行礼、挂烧纸钱、供奉祭品等。踏青的习俗自周朝来已有2500年的年的历史。

清明节还有插柳的习俗。值此柳条发芽时节,“无心插柳柳成荫”,年年插柳,处处成荫。此外还因受佛教观世音手持柳枝蘸水普度众生的影响,人们相信插柳戴柳有驱鬼辟邪的作用。

清明节的习俗除了祭祖扫墓、郊游踏青外,还有庙会上香,放风筝、野餐、以及荡秋千、蹴鞠、打马球等一系列风俗体育活动。

In recent times with cremations becoming more popular, families can continue the tradition by visiting temples or shrines to martyrs, and families can sometimes be represented by one or two members of the family given modern-day pressures such as busy life schedules or requirements to work and live away from the family home, and you can even use apps to virtually sweep a relative's tomb if you are not able to be there in person!

线上“云”祭祀,足不出户寄哀思。随着历史的发展与社会的演变,传统祭祀方式的继承与延伸,现已有很多平台推出线上祭祀,在逝者纪念馆空间进行祭拜留言,选择鲜花、花烛或留言等形式寄托哀思,缅怀故人。

What do Chinese people eat for QingmingJie?

饮食

In the past, the day before Qingmingjie was known as 'Cold Food Day', but this has, over time, been combined with Tombsweeping day. So, in some places, it is customary to eat cold food on this day. Traditional food for this festival varies between different Chinese regions and is prepared in advance, including sweet green rice balls, Qingming cakes, Qingming snails, eggs and peach blossom porridge.

清明节有着久远的历史,随着时代的发展而变化,后续渐渐融合了寒食节的习俗,在中国一些地方还保留有清明节禁火与吃冷食的习惯。因各地的饮食习惯不同,因而衍生出了各种清明传统美食,如青团、清明饼、清明螺、鸡蛋、桃花粥等。

You might hear people say

词汇

• 清明节 (qīng míng Jié /ching-ming jyeh/): Qingming Festival
• 扫墓 (sǎo mù /saow-moo/): sweep tombs
• 祭祖 (jì zǔ /jee dzoo/): worship (sacrifice to) ancestors
• 纸钱 (zhǐ qián /jrr-chyen/): joss paper — paper made to resemble money and burned as an offering to the dead
• 烧香 (shāo xiāng /shaoww-hsyang/): burn joss sticks (incense)

This year on Qingmingjie China will mourn its Codiv-19 victims at 10am - see the below article for more details. And if you want to learn even more about this festival, read about the 'dos and don'ts for Qingmingjie' by Xinhua Net, and about how technology is helping modern Chinese people pay their respects from afar by BBC News by scanning the QR codes below!

'dos and don'ts for QingmingJie'

www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-04/04/c_137088780.htm

China to mourn COVID-19 victims on April 4

www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-04/03/c_138942981.htm

How technology is helping modern day Chinese people pay their respects from afar

(please connect to vpn first)
www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-39487437

A Poem about Qingming Festival

清明思故人

《清明》杜牧

清明时节雨纷纷,
路上行人欲断魂。
借问酒家何处有,
牧童遥指杏花村。

The Mourning Day
Du Mu

Upon the Clear-and-Bright Feast of spring, the rain drizzleth down in spray.
Pedestrians on countryside ways, in gloom are pinning away.
When asked "Where a tavern fair for rest, is hereabouts to be found",
The shepherd boy the Apricot Bloom Vill, doth point to afar and say.

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