The Qingming Festival (traditional Chinese: 清明節; simplified Chinese: 清明节; pinyin: Qīngmíngjié, or Ching Ming Festival in Hong Kong), meaning Clear and Bright Festival, is a traditional Chinese festival on the 104th day after the winter solstice (or the 15th day from the Spring Equinox), usually occurring around April 5 of the Gregorian calendar.
Its name denotes a time for people to go outside and enjoy the greenery of springtime (踏青 Tàqīng, “treading on the greenery”), and also to tend to the graves of departed ones.
Qingming is a statutory public holiday in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. It has long been a public holiday in the latter three jurisdictions, but became a public holiday in mainland China in 2008 for the first time since 1949.
The holiday is also known by a number of other names in the English language:
* All Souls Day (not to be confused with the Roman Catholic holiday, All Souls Day, of the same name)
* Clear Brightness Festival
* Festival for Tending Graves
* Grave Sweeping Day
* Chinese Memorial Day
* Tomb Sweeping Day
* Spring Remembrance
For the Chinese, it is a day to remember and honor one’s ancestors at grave sites. Young and old pray before the ancestors, sweep the tombs and offer food, tea, wine, chopsticks, (joss) paper accessories, and/or libation to the ancestors.
There is a famous ancient chinese poem written to describe the somber atmosphere of tomb sweeping during this festival period.
清明时节雨纷纷 qīng míng shí jié yǔ fēn fēn
路上行人欲断魂 lù shàng xíng rén yù duàn hún
借问酒家何处有 jiè wèn jiǔ jiā hé chù yǒu
牧童遥指杏花村 mù tóng yáo zhǐ xìng huā cūn
A drizzling rain falls like tears on the Mourning Day;
The mourner’s heart is breaking on his way.
Where can a winehouse be found to drown his sadness?
A cowherd points to Almond Flower (Xing Hua) Village in the distance.
* Note: (The word: 酒家 can have multiple meaning. 1. Winehouse or restaurant; 2. Hostel, Hotel or Motel. But the most common and most appropriate translation for ‘酒家’ should be ‘Inn’).