The lowdown on: Qingming Festival

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Qingming Festival is a traditional Chinese festival that occurs annually at the beginning of April. Commonly referred to in English as ‘Tomb Sweeping Day’ or ‘Ancestors Day’, the festival marks a time for Chinese people to remember relatives and visit the graves of their ancestors.

The Chinese flock to cemeteries during Qingming Festival and honour their dead by offering prayers, gifts including food, tea, and wine and other presents which they believe their ancestors will need in the after life. Traditionally it was common for relatives to leave a whole rooster at the grave site as an offering.

To this day relatives will still burn pictures or paper models of items they think the dead may want. These can include models of everything from houses and cars, to paper computers and even smart phones! During Qingming Festival many markets across China often sell stacks of special spirit money called Ghost Money. This is often simply a white bit of paper but more entrepreneurial traders sell notes that look similar to real money, ranging all the way from 1 to a billion yen!

However the festival is not just a celebration of the past but also a time to look forward to the future. The festival marks the end of winter and the coming of spring. During Qingming, families commonly go for long walks or picnics and flying kites is also a popular activity dating back to the Qing Dynasty of China when  people would fly their kites as high as possible, then let go taking with it bad luck.