Qingming Festival (Tomb Sweeping Day), as one of the twenty-four solar terms, is a traditional Chinese festival as well as the most important day to worship Chinese ancestors. It is also named Spring Outing Festival (Taqing 踏青), and occurring around April 4 to 6 every year of the solar calendar. It is the time that bright spring days with budding greenery, and also the good time for people to go outside (Ancient people called Taqing). Therefore, except for visiting graves of their ancestors, ancient people also have the custom of enjoying Spring Outing in the holiday and hold a serious of physical exercise.
Chinese traditional Qingming Festival can be dated back to the Zhou Dynasty and has a history of more than 2,500 years. Visiting a tomb is commonly called Shangfen(上坟) in Chinese which is an activity for paying respects to the dead. The majority Han people and a number of minorities visit graves in Qingming Festival. According to old customs, people bring things such as food, wine, fruits and joss paper with them, and put the food in front of the tombs as offerings, then burn the joss paper. Meanwhile, add some earth and insert several new willow branches on graves, then pray before their ancestors, eat the food and then go home. The poem “Qingming” written by Du Mu from Tang dynasty: “It drizzles endless during the rainy season in spring; Travelers along the road look gloomy and miserable. When I ask a shepherd boy where I can find a tavern; He points at a distant hamlet nestling amidst apricot blossoms.” It reflects the special atmosphere in Qingming. Until now, the custom of worshiping and remembering ancestors is still popular.
Qingming Festival is very special for both owning the sad tears during visiting graves and also the happy laughter within the spring outings. Furthermore, its customs are very plentiful and interesting. For instance,
Swing, which means transfer with a rope, has a long history and in the beginning it is called Qianqiu. Later, in order to avoid taboo, it changed into Qiuqian. In the old days, the swing was mostly used tree branches to make its frame, and gradually developed into the swing that was made up of two ropes and one pedal. Swing can not only improve health, but also can cultivate bravery. Until today, swing is favored by people, especially by children.
Ju is a kind of ball which is made of leather in the outside and full of furs inside. Cuju means using feet to kick the ball. It was a popular game in ancient time. It is said that Yellow Emperor invented the game and the original aim was to train the warriors.
3. Tree Planting
Around Qingming, saplings can have high survival rates and grow fast as the weather is full of much sunshine and sometimes rains. Therefore, since ancient time, Chinese people had the custom of planting trees in Qingming. Some people even call Qingming Festival as Tree Planting Day.
4. Flying kites
Flying kites is also a favorite activity for people. During the Qingming Festival, People not only fly kites in the day, but also in the night. At night, people tie lines of little colorful lanterns under the kites or on the strings. The lanterns are just like bright stars and they are called “magic lamp”. In the past, some people flew the kites into the blue sky and then cut the strings to let them go. It was said that this can avoid diseases and misfortunes and bring good luck.
5. Spring Outing
Spring Outing is also named spring tour. And in ancient time it was called exploring spring, looking for spring and etc. Spring returns in March and the nature is full of a sense of thriving vitality which reminds us it is a good time for outing. And Chinese people keep the custom for a long time.
At last, there are some tour routes for you to enjoy your spring tour in China:
- Green Spring China Tour
2. 9 Days Huangshan, Wuyuan and Yangtze River Cruise Tour
3. Guilin and Yangshuo hiking tour
4. Getaway in Hangzhou
5. One Day Guilin City Tour (seat-in-coach tour)
6. Historical Beijing Tour (Seat-in-Coach Tour)