A Tomb in Hong Kong - ready to be cleaned during the Qing Ming Festival

What is the Qing Ming festival?

(Last Updated On: April 1, 2019)

What is the Qing Ming festival ( or Qingming or Ching Ming)? Good question. Known in English as Tomb Sweeping Day, it’s a traditional Chinese holiday during which families visit the tombs (or graves) of their ancestors, to clean and paint the tombs and pray, and make offerings.

Traditional foods, the burning of incence, spirit money and paper replicas of houses, cars, mobile phones and other material goods are offered during the festival.

While folk traces for the festival date to 655 BCE, the festival is credited to Emperor Xuanzong of Tang in 782 BCE. The emperor believed his nobles held too many expensive festivals to honor their ancestors – at the Qing Ming festival became a once-a-year catch-all to curb the extravagances of the officials.

The Kowtowing ritual in front of the grave is performed in the order of patriarchal seniority within the family. After the ancestor worship at the grave site, the whole family or the whole clan feast on the food and drink they have brought for the worship either at the site or in nearby gardens in the memorial park, signifying the family’s reunion with its ancestors.

from Wikipedia

During the festival, families visit tombs or graves of departed loved ones, sweep said tomb, and make offerings, pray, and bow. Food, wine and other libations are also offered up.  These are generally consumed by those attending when the festivities are over. Qing Ming is a family-oriented festival – for the both the dead and the living. The remainder of the day is generally one of family outdoor activities including hiking, flying kites, or, following an older custom – planting trees.

How will I spend the Qing Ming holiday? If the weather is nice perfect a nice session of hillclimbing with the family (although they may nix my plans). Perhaps a trip to the park?

Observed in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, the Qing Ming Festival is also observed by the Chinese diaspora in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia, as well as some Chinese communities in North America. In 2019 the QingMing Festival is April 5. It is an official holiday in Hong Kong, Mainland China and Taiwan.

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