Chinese Ritual-Tomb Sweeping Festival

Qingming Jie is a public holiday in Taiwan and parts of China that translates to Tomb Sweeping Festival. It is also known as Pure Brightness Day. My dad tells me that the Chinese take death and funerals very seriously. So, on this holiday, which usually occurs sometime in April (it changes based on the lunar calendar), relatives of the deceased must go to their graves and clean them. So, kids and their parents have to go to the graveyards and sweep the tombs and decorate them with Chinese charms. They also leave food at the tomb for their ancestors to eat.

My dad said that even though it was a day of respect, it could be fairly scary when he was little. He said that most the times the graveyards would be dingy and dirty and it was your responsibility to go and clean the tomb and make it look acceptable. So, as a little kid, he did not like Tomb Sweeping Day. After cleaning the tombs, they would pray for their ancestors.

The Qingming Festival originally started as a way to honor a man named Jie Zitui. Supposedly, Jie had cut a part of his leg meat off to save his lord from hunger, since his lord had had to go into exile when the crown was in jeopardy. After 19 years, the lord came back, and decided to reward Jie. However, during that time, Jie had hid away in a mountain with his mother and in order to find Jie, the lord ordered that the mountain be set on fire. Both Jie and his mother were found dead and from then on the lord ordered that only cold food could be eaten on the day that Jie died. Other traditions involved with this festival is kite-flying and spring outings. Both are done after the tomb sweeping is finished as a way to then celebrate life and prosperity.

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