If you’re currently living or traveling in China or Taiwan, you must know that this weekend until 4th of April is a national holiday. It’s called “Tomb Sweeping Festival”, also know as “Qingming Jie” 清明节. Yes, tomb sweeping day! It’s actually one of the biggest holidays in Chinese society! Don’t worry we’ll explain the origin of tomb sweeping day and what people do on this particular day. Heads up first, it might not be a wise idea to join your local friend’s family tomb sweeping trip… keep reading and you’ll understand why.
Aside from tomb sweeping day, spring is just around the corner as well! Check here for our older post of phrases about spring or how to ask about the weather and 4 seasons! Also, check out our useful conversation posts of 5 ways to say sorry in Chinese, 5 ways to say I love you in Chinese, country names in Chinese or our interesting posts about leftover women. Don’t forget to sign up for our free trial and download our app to learn Chinese language and get to discuss different kinds of Chinese holidays or culture with our professional tutor!
What is Tomb Sweeping Festival?
Tomb sweeping day literally means what it seems. It’s a day for families to worship their ancestors, to clean their tombs, and to show their respect. As one of the most important holiday in Chinese society, it’s also a perfect timing for family trips. Due to the fact that most tombs are outside big cities, people need to go for a one or two-days road trip!
When is Tomb Sweeping Festival?
Tomb sweeping day is usually around the 4th to 6th of April. The date differs every year since it’s followed by the 24 solar terms on the lunar calendar. These twenty-four solar terms each suggest the position of the sun every time it travels 15 degrees on the ecliptic longitude (aka these 24 terms from all year round are about season/ weather). Back to tomb sweeping day, as “qing ming” is in one of the solar terms, its date is more of a period instead of a specific date.
What Do People Do on Tomb Sweeping Festival?
Families would gather together to visit their ancestors and clean the tomb, prepare food, and paper money for their ancestors. People would bring brooms, scissors to cut the grass, and food for their ancestors to eat. Also, burning paper money for them to use in the other world. Meanwhile, families would travel a bit as well after they finished visiting their ancestors.
The Origin of Tomb Sweeping Festival
The story dated back around the end of Qin dynasty (秦朝). Xiang Yu, the military leader who ends the Qing dynasty. He went on a long trip and came back to his hometown with the victory. As he was visiting his parents grave/ tomb, he couldn’t find their tomb. For the reason that it’s been years since he left for the battlefield, plus the area isn’t well preserved. The grass was growing in every direction, covering the tombs. He and his soldiers were searching for his parent’s tomb for hours but they still couldn’t find it. Then, he took out a piece of paper, ripped it into small pieces, and pray. Praying to his parents, wishing that once he throws those papers into the air if it landed on a place where the wind couldn’t blow it away, then it’s where their tombs are. Fortunately, he did found his parents tomb and he swears to himself that every year around qing ming period, he’ll come to his parents grave to worship them. Since then, people follow his ritual to worship their ancestors. In the meantime, people would also leave a small piece of paper after visiting the tomb, as a sign of someone had already pay a visit.
Now you understand why it might not be a good idea to join your local friends’ tomb sweeping trip. For older generations, this is a really important day to worship their ancestors. They take it seriously and wish their children do the same and respect the ritual.