china edition


Qingming Festival

Date: 12th of the 3rd lunar month, usually around April 4th or 5th.
Venue: Nationwide

Qingming, meaning clear and bright, is the day for mourning the dead. It corresponds with the onset of warmer weather, the start of spring plowing and of family outings.

Qingming FestivalIn ancient China, Qingming was by no means the only time when sacrifices were made to ancestors. In fact such ceremonies were held very frequently, about every 2 weeks, in addition to other important holidays and festivals. The formalities of these ceremonies were in general very elaborate and expensive in terms of time and money.In an effort to reduce this expense, Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang dynasty declared in 732 AD that respects would be formally paid at the tombs of ancestors only on the day of Qingming. This is the custom that continues to date.

People will visit their ancestors' graves. They will tidy up, remove weeds and sweep away leaves. This is why Qingming is also known as the Grave Sweeping Day. Beijing's subway is particularly crowded around Qingming as people flock to Babaoshan, Beijing's most famous cemetery and crematorium, to pay respects to their departed loved ones.

Qingming is not just a day of remembrance, it is also a day to celebrate the coming of spring, often by going out for a picnic. With the coming of spring, nature wakes up, dressing the world in green. All is new, clean and fresh.

Springtime, especially in North China, is the windy season, just right for flying kites. It is not surprising that kite flying is very popular during the Qingming season. Visitors should go to Tian'anmen Square to see kites of all shapes and sizes. The biggest could be 100 m long, made of a 100 sections to form a dragon or even a centipede. The annual Weifang Kite Festival held every April in East China's Shandong Province has become a major event, attracting thousands of tourists and kite flying competitors all over the world.