Qingming Festival, or Ching Ming Festival, called Pure Brightness Festival or Tomb-Sweeping Day in English. Qingming Festival falls in early April, when the weather warms up and everything comes to life. It is such a good time for a spring outing to enjoy the fresh air and to relax. This year Qingming Festival is on Sunday, April 4.
Qingming Festival is also the 5th of the traditional Chinese 24 Solar Terms, meaning “the days are going to be warm and bright (when not raining) and vegetation turns green.” It is a day for people to go out for tomb sweeping and spring outings.
There are various interesting traditions and activities for Chinese people to celebrate Qingming Festival.
Qing Ming Festival Activities:
- Kite Flying
- Spring Outing
- Tree planting
- Tomb Sweeping
- Hanging Willow Branches
- Eating Sweet Green Rice Balls
During Qingming Festival, people do not only fly kites in the daytime, but also fly them at night. They attach strings of little lanterns to the end of the kite, which look like blinking stars. The lanterns are called Magic Lamps. It is said that if you cut the string after the kite have flown into the sky and let it go freely, it will ward off sickness and bring you good luck!
Traditionally, Chinese people bring tea, wine, food, incense, firecrackers, and zhi qian (paper made to resemble money and burned as an offering to the dead) when visiting the tombs of their ancestors.
People take foods as an offering, burn firecrackers and zhi qian, cover the tomb with some new soil, insert several Willow branches on the tomb, and worship their ancestors. After this routine people would go back home and eat family dinner together.
Today, it is forbidden to burn incense, firecrackers and zhi qian in many cities in China, so people present fresh flowers instead, usually chrysanthemums and lilies.
The sunshine and rain are sufficient during Qingming Festival, which makes for a high survival rate for trees planted at this time. Hence people would like to plant trees upon Qingming Festival’s arrival.
There are also some places wearing soft willow branches or hanging the branches on gates during Qingming Festival to exorcise evil spirits. Because a Buddhist Goddess Guanyin often show up to save living beings with a willow branch in a vase of water. People believe that the goddess uses the mysterious water and willow branches to scare away evils.
In South China, people are likely to eat Sweet Green Rice Balls when going on spring outings during Qingming Festival. It is a seasonal snack made from a mixture of glutinous rice flour and green plant juice then stuffed with sweetened bean paste or meat floss and egg yolk.
What did we do at PICLC?
At PICLC we had the wonderful privilege of being taught by our own parents. Our parents enlightened us with the special meaning and traditions of this day.
During the day we had a very exciting cooking experience. All our learners learned how to make our own sweet, green rice balls. We had these rice balls for our afternoon snack and nothing tastes better than your own hard work.