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Qing Ming Festival 清明节

Qingming festival 清明节, known as Tomb-Sweeping Day in English, is a traditional Chinese festival observed universally on the third day of the third moon in the lunar calendar, which usually falls around early April in the Western calendar.

Qingming which literally means clear and bright, marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring and hence is a poignant day for the Chinese to celebrate life and to honour their ancestors.

Traditionally in China, Qingming coincides with the rice planting season and is also celebrated to bring a bumper crop.

It is a day for family outings as they take advantage of the start of spring with picnics and kite flying. Children will be running around with kites in the shapes of their favourite animals or popular characters from Chinese operas. There is a superstition that by flying the kite as high as you can and eventually letting it go, it will ward off diseases and bring good luck, a symbolic reference to ‘letting go’ of your bad luck.

For the overseas Chinese, Qingming is a more sombre occasion dedicated to remembering departed family members and ancestral spirits. The Chinese believe that the spirits of their ancestors are always watching over them and looking after the family. As such, family members would pay their respects annually, with prayers and offerings. Young and old will gather around their ancestors’ graves to pray, tidy the area around the tombs (hence Tomb-Sweeping Day), offer food, tea, wine, and burn joss-sticks and paper money as offerings.

According to Chinese beliefs, burning paper money and other paper replicas of luxury goods such as clothes, cars, homes, and mobile phones will bring these objects of comfort and wealth to the departed in the after world. And by taking care of their ancestors in the afterlife, they believe that the ancestors will in turn take care of them. Once the ceremony is done, the family will feast on the food and drinks they brought for the worship, signifying a family reunion of the living and the departed.

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