A well-known poem by Tang Dynasty poet Du Mu tells of a sad scene in early April: "A drizzling rain falls like tears on the Mourning Day, the mourner's heart is going to break on his way..." Mourning Day, also known as Qingming Festival, the traditional tomb-sweeping day in China, falls on April 5-7 this year. It is a time for remembering loved ones who have departed. People visit their ancestors' graves to sweep away the dirt.

Foods for Qingming Festival (Tomb-Sweeping Day)

Different places have different food traditions for Qingming Festival. As this Festival and Cold Food Festival are celebrated on the same day, people in some places still have the custom of eating cold food on Qingming Festival.


Traditional Customs

Qingming Festival is a time of many different activities,among which the main ones are tomb sweeping, taking a spring outing, Chinese football, polo, tug-of-war, rooster-fighting and flying kites, etc. Some other lost customs like wearing willow branches on the head ...



"Stepping-the-green" refers to the spring-outgoing people talk about now. Qingming is in early April when it begins to turn warm, and everything is blooming. So it is a good time to go out for a walk. Qingming is not just a blue time for remembrance, but also a green time for fun and joy.

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Background of Qingming Festival

Qingming Festival (also known as Pure Brightness Festival or Tomb-sweeping Day), which falls on either April 4th or 5th of the gregorian calendar, is one of the Chinese Twenty-four Solar Terms. From that date temperature begins to rise and rainfall increases, indicating that it is the crucial time for plowing and sowing in the spring. Qingming Festival therefore has a close relationship with agriculture. However, it is not only a seasonal symbol; it is also a festival of paying respect to the dead, a spring outing, and other activities.Thus,the Qingming Festival sees a combination of sadness and happiness.

This is the most important day of sacrifice. Both the Han and minority ethnic groups at this time offer sacrifices to their ancestors and sweep the tombs of the diseased. Also, they will not cook this day and only cold food is served.

The Hanshi (Cold Food) Day was usually one day before the Qingming Festival. As our ancestors often extended the day to the Qingming, they were later combined.

On each Qingming Festival, all cemeteries are crowded with people who came to sweep tombs and offer sacrifices. Traffic on the way to the cemeteries becomes extremely jammed. The customs have been greatly simplified today. After slightly sweeping the tombs, people offer food, flowers and favorites of the dead, then burn incense and paper money and bow before the memorial tablet.

In contrast to the sadness of the tomb sweepers, people also enjoy hope of Spring on this day. The Qingming Festival is a time when the sun shines brightly, the trees and grass become green and the nature is again lively. Since ancient times, people have followed the custom of Spring outings. At this time tourists are everywhere.

Orgin of Qingming Festival

Its origin dates back to the Spring and Autumn Period in ancient China. Prince Chong'er (697 BC - 628 BC) ,who was later led the state of Jin, ran away from the country with his supporters due to persecution. They were homeless for 19 years and things got so bad that Chong'er began to starve to death. One of the prince's faithful followers, Jie Zitui, cut a piece of muscle from his own leg and served it to his master. Chong'er was saved and, in 636 BC, he took back the throne.

He rewarded the officials who had stayed loyal to him but he forgot about Jie Zitui. By the time Chong'er remembered him, heartbroken Jie Zitui had traveled deep into the mountains. Chong'er wanted to persuade Jie to come home, so he had the hills set on fire. But Jie was later found beside a large tree, with his old mother on his back. Both were dead.

Saddened by the tragedy, Chong'er ordered that fires could not be lit on the day of Jie Zitui's death. From this comes Hanshi Day, or Cold Food Day. People visited Jie Zitui's tomb the next day to pay their respects. Over time, Hanshi Day was replaced with tomb-sweeping day.