By Ivy Lo, Accountant @ Jump
Ching Ming Festival (清明节) is also called Tomb Sweeping Day, one of the most important traditional festivals in China. It falls on April 5th and it is a public holiday. Perfect time for the family to come together to show respect to their ancestors by cleaning their ancestors' tombs and placing offerings.
In addition, Ching Ming (清明) in Chinese mean 'clearness' and 'brightness'. It is the fifth of the 24 solar terms of the traditional Chinese solar calendar, marking the start of the warm weather of spring and the beginning of farm work.
People commemorate and show respect to their ancestors by visiting their graves, and offering their spirits food, tea or wine, burning incense, burning or offering joss paper (representing money), etc.
Putting Willow Branches on Gates
During the Ching Ming Festival, some people wear soft willow branches and place the branches on gates and front doors. People believe that this custom will ward off wandering evil spirits during Ching Ming. That willows are considered magical is mainly a Buddhist influence. Traditional pictures of the Goddess of Mercy Guanyin often show her seated on a rock with a willow branch in a vase of water at her side. The goddess used this mysterious water and branch to scare away demons.
According to historical records, there is an old saying: ‘Put willow branches up on gates; drive ghosts away from houses.’
The traditional Ching Ming festival foods include sweet green rice balls, crispy cakes, Ching Ming Zong. These foods are usually cooked one or two days before the arrival of the Ching Ming Festival so people can eat and recreate during the holidays.
Things Not to Do When Tomb Sweeping
- Don’t take photos in cemeteries (or in other tomb areas), as this is considered disrespectful and a bringer of bad luck.
- Don't sweep tombs after 3pm as it is believed to be inauspicious.
- Don't wear clothes with bright colors or skimpy clothes.
- Don’t reverse the order of sacrifice. The right order is as follows: renovate the tomb, offer incense and sacrifices, toast the deceased, and finally kowtow or bow in worship.
- Don’t eat or laugh loudly when performing the rituals, as this is considered disrespectful.
- Don’t visit friends and relatives on Tomb Sweeping Day as it is a special day for commemorating the departed.
- Do not participate in others' grave sweeping as it will bring bad luck.
Ching Ming Festival is most strongly related to respect for departed spirits and sacrifice, which means it is not proper to greet with words like happy, joyful, merry, etc.
It is better and more polite to say:
- Wishing you all best for Ching Ming Festival. (清明安好)
- Wishing you health and safety for Ching Ming Festival. (清明健康平安)
It is all about Ching Ming things that I know, I wish you have a health & safety Ching Ming Festival with your family.