As the Christians celebrate the death and ressurection of Jesus Christ, The Chinese people on the other hand celebrate Chinese Qingming Festival or which is simply known as the Tomb sweeping Day. This is basically the day that the Chinese people remember the dead and celebrate the living.It is celebrated in the beginning of spring that is the early days of the beginning of April. During the period there is always rain in most parts of the countries and symbolizes the beginning of sowing as the temperatures begin to rise. Activities are also high due to the niced weather.
The Origin of Chinese Qingming Festival
According to the stories passed down from generation to generation, It is said that the Qingming Festival was originally held to commemorate a loyal man who lived between the ages of (770 – 476 BC), the man was named Jie . Because his Lord was forced into exile and the kingdom was in jeopardy, Jie cut a piece of his leg just but to save his hungry master. Nineteen years later, the Lord came back to the throne but just like any other man he had forgotten the sacrifices done by Jie, due to the shame the Lord decided to reward Jie. Jie was nowhere to be found as he had isolated himself from other people and was living with his mum in the caves of the mountains.
On reaching the mountain the Lord found both Jie and his mother had already passed away of which he ordered for the mountain to be set on fire and called the day Jie died Hanshi which translates to cold food. On that day only cold food could be eaten. On the second year when the Lord went to sacrifice some food for Jie, he found willows had revived and so ordered the day after Hanshi festival to be called Qingming Festival. The two days were later combined together as one and from that day Chinese Qingming festival was celebrated.
Traditional Customs during Chinese Qingming Festival
Chinese Qingming Festival comes with different activities for the people since the days are always cooler and it is around spring there. The activities during this festival include;
- Tomb sweeping
- Taking a spring outing, and flying kites.
- Wearing willow branches on the head
- Riding on swings
Sweeping of Tombs
Tomb sweeping is regarded the most important activity during this festival. People always gather on the tombs of the dead loved ones and sweep the tomb, weed the tombs and put fresh soil on the tombs. The favourite food and wine is usually served by the tomb and sometimes people burn paper money to the dead. Songs and praise are sang to the deceased to show remembrace and love for the dead. All this is believed to assure that the dead do not lack food and money in the realm they are into. People then bow down to the tablets of the dead. With the modernity of cremation, these days they is no visiting the tablets. Flowers are just presented to the churns of the dead. Respect is given to the dead to show the living are still remembering them.
Going out for a tour of the sceneries
During this period it is usually in early April and this marks the beginning of spring festivals. The people can therefore enjoy the blossoming of flowers and the beginning of a cool weather. The flowers are showing signs of coming to live and the trees are beginning to have leaves coming up. This is therefore the best time for a family outing. This way of life was already there even in the early times for example during the Tang Dynasty between 618-907. Although the Chinese Qingming Festival is for remembering the dead, people still go out there so that they can celebrate lifa and appreciate the living.
In modern day China visitors go to many parts of China just to visit the blossoming flowers. However with the larger population, many people take days off to visit places and therefore it is always so crowded during this day. Some of the areas that are so popular with the visitors include;
Huangling in Jiangxi province of Southern China which has beautiful flowers.
Beijing Greatwall in Badaling
Luoping in Yunnan which has colourful yellow canola flowers
Flying kites is an activity favored by many people during the Chinese Qingming Festival. Kites are not only flown during the day time but also in the evening. Little lanterns are tied to the kite or to the string that holds the kite. And when the kite is flying in the sky, the lanterns look like twinkling stars that add unique scenery to the sky during the night.The strings are usually cut to symbolize good luck to the people left behind and also shows that the bad luck like diseases and death have been cut loose and people can continue with their lives in harmony and good health.
Chinese Qingming festival is a one bitter sweet festival as people remember the dead loved ones and celebrate the beauty of life. It is a unique Chinese festival that has been passed from century to century and is respected throughout China.
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