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Traditional Chinese festival: Qingming Festival

Editor: zhenglimin 丨CCTV.com

04-01-2016 11:39 BJT

The Qingming (Pure Brightness) Festival is one of the 24 seasonal division points in China, falling on April 4-6 each year. After the festival, the temperature will rise up and rainfall increases. It is the high time for spring plowing and sowing. But the Qingming Festival is not only a seasonal point to guide farm work, it is more a festival of commemoration.

The Qingming Festival sees a combination of sadness and happiness.

This is the most important day of sacrifice. Both the Han and minority ethnic groups at this time offer sacrifices to their ancestors and sweep the tombs of the deceased. Also, they will not cook on this day and only cold food is served.

The Hanshi (Cold Food) Festival was usually one day before the Qingming Festival. As our ancestors often extended the day to the Qingming, they were later combined.

On each Qingming Festival, all cemeteries are crowded with people who came to sweep tombs and offer sacrifices. Traffic on the way to the cemeteries becomes extremely jammed. The customs have been greatly simplified today. After slightly sweeping the tombs, people offer food, flowers and favorites of the dead, then burn incense and paper money and bow before the memorial tablet.

In contrast to the sadness of the tomb sweepers, people also enjoy hope of Spring on this day. The Qingming Festival is a time when the sun shines brightly, the trees and grass become green and nature is again lively. Since ancient times, people have followed the custom of Spring outings. At this time tourists are everywhere.

Qingming is the best time for Taqing, or a spring outing, getting out and enjoying the early blossoms before summer. During the spring, everything in nature takes on a new look, as trees turn green, flowers blossom, and the sun shines brightly. It is a fine time to go out and appreciate the beauty of nature during the festival.

Swings are very popular amongst children and are usually found on playgrounds. As a popular custom on Tomb Sweeping Day, swinging not only stops the chillness from eating cold food, but also develops a child’s bravery.

Meanwhile, Ju is a rubber ball made of leather on the outside and stuffed tightly with feathers on the inside. Cuju means "kick the rubber ball with foot". It was a popular sport played by the ancient Chinese during the Qingming Festival. The Yellow Emperor was purportedly the initiator of Cuju, and he invented it to train his soldiers.

People love to fly kites during the Qingming Festival. Kite flying is actually not limited to the Qingming Festival. Its uniqueness lies in that people fly kites not during the day, but also at night. A string of little lanterns tied onto the kite or the thread look like shining stars, and therefore, are called "god's lanterns."

The Qingming Festival is also a time to plant trees, for the survival rate of saplings is high and trees grow fast later. In the past, the Qingming Festival was called "Arbor Day". But since 1979, "Arbor Day" was settled as March 12 according to the Gregorian calendar.

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