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Tomb Sweeping Day (Qingming Jie) in China is a Family Festival To Honour Ancestors!
Qingming Festival is also known as Tomb-sweeping Day, Pure Brightness Festival, Clear Bright Festival, All Souls Day, Festival for Tending Graves or Grave Sweeping Day. It falls on either April 4th or 5th of the solar calendar, is one of the 24 Chinese Solar Terms, and is a crucial time for Spring ploughing and sowing since temperatures rise and rainfall increases. It was proclaimed a Chinese national holiday in 2008.
Not only does this festival have a close association with agriculture, however, it is also a time for remembering departed ancestors and enjoying the change in weather conditions outdoors. Families visit the gravesides of their forebears and give symbolic offerings of food such as chicken, pork, rice and fruit. Also, incense and 'spirit money' is burnt as an offering. Many older, more superstitious people believe that it is important to placate the spirits of the departed otherwise they may turn into "hungry ghosts" and torment the living. Most people engage in outdoor activities such as kite flying and strolling through botanical gardens in the good weather!Sometimes, a family will put burning incense with the offering so as to expedite the transfer of nutritious elements to the ancestors. In some parts of China, the food is then eaten by the entire family.

Besides the traditions of honoring the dead, people also often fly kits on Tomb Sweeping Day. Kites can come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and colors. Designs could include frogs, dragonflies, butterflies, crabs, bats, and storks.

Kite Flying on Tomb Sweeping Day!

A popular family activity for the young at heart!

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Many people fly kites on Tomb Sweeping Day.They are usually made from a bamboo crossbow with coloured paper. The kite vibrates and buzzes as it rises into the sky, counterbalanced by its tail. Large kites can be as broad as three metres across, with a tail of six to ten metres. Most kites have a rectangular shape, and many have patterns of crabs, centipedes, butterflies, dragonflies, or Chinese characters such as "good fortune" or "long life".




"Qingming" - A Poem by Du Mu!

The Famous Poet Devised a Quatrain About This Solemn Festival!


Du Mu (803-852 A.D.)
Du Mu (803-852 A.D.)
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Du Mu (803 - 852 CE) was a famous poet during the Tang Dynasty (June 18, 618 - June 4, 907 CE). He is best known for his romantic quatrains, the "Qingming" poem being a famous example of this style of verse. The above poem is translated into English as follows:

"A drizzling rain falls like tears on the Mourning Day;
The mourner's heart is breaking on his way.
Where can a wine house be found to drown his sadness?
A cowherd points to Almond Flower (Xing Hua) Village in the distance."








Vocabulary

If you talk to any Chinese people about their home town’s traditions for Qingming Jie, you may run across some of this vocab. These are words I was asked “how to say…” so often that I actually learned the Chinese for them in the process.
fénmù 坟墓 = tomb / grave
mùdì 墓地 = cemetery (which sounds exactly like mùdì 目的 = “goal”)
sǎomù 扫墓 = to sweep tombs
bài zǔxiān 拜祖先 = to pay respects to ancestors
shāo xiāng 烧香 = to burn incense
shāo zhū 烧猪 = roast pig
gānzhè 甘蔗 = sugar cane
fàng biānpào 放鞭炮 = set off firecrackers