Qingming Festival – April 5, 2019

Thu Apr 4

The Qingming Festival (or Tomb Sweeping Day), which goes back 2,500 years, happens on April 5.

This day falls on the first day of the fifth solar term of the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar. Observed mainly by the Han Chinese and the Chitty people of Malaysia, it’s a time when people honor their ancestors through traditional food offerings and by sweeping tombs.

Interestingly, this festival’s closely linked to farming as well. As temperatures rise and rainfall increases, Qingming is a sign for farmers to plant in spring.

Qingming Festival timeline

2008

It's officially a public holiday

China only recently declared this a public holiday, despite the Festival's ancient history.

1976

Premier Zhou Enlai Honored

Thousands honored the first Premier of the People's Republic of China, Zhou Enlai, during the Qingming Festival. It's customary to honor deceased political figures and martyrs during this time.

7th Century BC

The Legend of Jie Zitui

During this festival people hang willow branches in memory of Jie Zitui, an official who cut his own flesh to feed a starving prince named Chong'er.

How to Observe Qingming Festival

  1. Visit your ancestors' tombs

    Sweep the tomb, make traditional cold food offerings, and lay lilies and chrysanthemums on tombstones.

  2. Fly "God's Lanterns"

    It's traditional to fly kites with a string of little lanterns tied onto them. People fly kites at night as well.

  3. Burn money at night

    The Chinese believe that burning currency notes as offerings to the dead will help one buy things in the afterlife.

4 Things To Consider Before Your First Qingming Festival

  1. Not all Chinese celebrate

    It might be a public holiday, but only 24 ethnic minorities in China celebrate.

  2. ​Pre-Qingming tea is more expensive

    ​In Chinese tea culture, tea leaves picked before this date are considered to be of higher quality and fetch a bigger price!

  3. It means "pure brightness"

    In Chinese the word Qingming means "pure brightness," and since this festival comes at the beginning of spring, the sun shines brightly.

  4. A food festival too

    In the South of China people eat "qingtuan," a tasty rice and barley dumpling; the Tujia ethnic group eats pig heads; and the Miao minority enjoy a pastry called Qingming.

Why Qingming Festival is Important

  1. The Chinese honor their ancestors

    Ancestor worship is a very important part of Chinese culture and this is one of the four important Chinese festivals dedicated to ancestors.

  2. It brings the hope of spring

    Spring is in the air during Qingming Festival; it's a time for family outings as well as planting.

  3. It has great historical importance

    Originating in the Zhou Dynasty, the Qingming Festival has a history that spans more than 2,000 years.