Tomb Sweeping Day, or Qingming - which falls on April 4 this year - is a national festival stretching back more than 2,500 years for people to honor and remember their deceased loved-ones at cemeteries and memorials. It is not just a day to honor those who have passed away, but also a time to embrace life at the beginning of spring.

"Outing in green spring": Qingming holidays bring travel rush

The annual Qingming festival falls on April 4 this year. As a traditional festival to remember and honor ancestors at grave sites, it also denotes a time for people to go outside and enjoy the greenery of springtime.

Low-carbon memorials promoted for Qingming

Every year across the country, more than 1,000 metric tons of paper products are burned as offerings during the Qingming Festival period. Nowadays, online streaming memorials, flowers and condolence cards are increasingly popular new ways of honoring the dead this Tomb Sweeping Day.

Here are new items this year: Paper-made imitations of famous brand-name luxuries, including Louis Vuitton bags, cars, laptops, watches, garments, wine and cigarettes, were among the items that saw the largest price hike...Even paper-made concubines and nannies have been added to the traditional offerings. [Full story]

Origins

It is said that the Qingming Festival was originally held to commemorate a loyal man living in the Spring and Autumn Period (770 - 476 BC), named Jie Zitui who cut a piece of meat from his own leg in order to save his hungry lord who was forced to go into exile when the crown was in jeopardy. [Full story]

Customs

Taqing (Spring Outing)
Taqing (Spring Outing)

Qingming is the best time for Taqing, or spring outing, and enjoying the early blossoms before summer.

Cuju
Cuju

Cuju means "kick the rubber ball with foot". It was a popular sport played by the ancient Chinese during the Qingming Festival.

Eating Cold Food
Eating Cold Food

The Hanshi (Cold Food) Festival is usually one day before Qingming Festival. People don’t cook on this day and only cold food is served.

Tomb Sweeping
Tomb Sweeping

Tomb sweeping during the Qingming Festival shows respect and offers sacrifice to ancestors at grave sites.

Swinging
Swinging

As a popular custom, swinging not only stops the chillness from eating cold food, but is also believed to develop a child’s bravery.

Kite Flying
Kite Flying

Flying kites is also an important custom enjoyed by many people during the Qingming Festival.

Qingming was frequently mentioned in Chinese literature.

Among these, the most famous one is probably Du Mu's poem (simply titled "Qingming"):

Simplified Chinese
pinyin
English translation
清明时节雨纷纷
qīng míng shí jié yǔ fēn fēn
A drizzling rain falls like tears on the Mourning Day;
路上行人欲断魂
lù shàng xíng rén yù duàn hún
The mourner's heart is breaking on his way.
借问酒家何处有
jiè wèn jiǔ jiā hé chù yǒu
Where can a winehouse be found to drown his sadness?
牧童遥指杏花村
mù tóng yáo zhǐ xìng huā cūn
A cowherd points to Almond Flower (Xing Hua) Village in the distance.