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Qingming: Memorizing the Departed, Hugging the Spring


Qingming, one of the 24 solar terms, is one of the most important traditional festivals in China.  It is the junction of the mid spring and the late spring.  After the arrival of Qingming, it becomes warmer and with more rainfalls.  Farmers seize the opportunity to sow seeds.

Ancestor worship and tomb-sweeping

Qingming is one of the most important occasions to worship ancestors and sweep the tombs.  Since Qin and Han dynasties, honoring the dead during Qingming had already been an indispensable part of the etiquette.  Even the people far away from home would come back to sweep the tombs.  The process included pulling out weeds, adding new soil, offering food for the spirits, burning incense and pouring out wine, burning paper money, putting paper on the trees, and holding a simple ritual to show one’s respect to the deceased.  Regarding the date of Qingmign, it varies from April 4th, 5th or 6th each year depending on the movement of the sun.  It is the only solar term treated as an official holiday.  


Hanging willow branches 

Ancient people thought that willow received most “Yang Qi” when spring comes, “Hang willow branches”, “wear willow branches” can avoid disease and repel evil.  Then it derived into the cultural meaning of Hang willow branches to keep spring.  Qingming Festival is a good time to go hiking and is also the proper season to plough and sow.

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