Tomb-sweeping Day is a very unique Chinese festival. It is called Qingming or Qinming Jie in Chinese language. Qingming is firstly, one of the 24 solar terms of Chinese agriculture. When Qingming comes, the weather temperature is rising and rainfall goes up. As an agricultural solar sign, it is good time for Chinese spring plowing and planting.
Qingming Jie is very close to Chinese Cold Food Day when Chinese people make no fire, eat cold food and go out to sweep ancestor’s tombs. Then Qingming and Cold Food day are join together as a special traditional day because they are so close to each other. Things to do on Cold Food Day became a custom of Qingming, later Tomb-sweeping Day.
In ancient times, the Tome Sweeping Day was considered a holy day to pay homage to the ancestors.
It is said that there was severe royalty succession fight in Jin Sates during Warring States. A prince named Chonger survived and escaped from the fight. He and his followers went into exile. At that time, he ate a humble pie and only a few loyal followers made after him. One day, Chonger prince was starved on his way. One follower call Jiezitui secretly cut down a piece of flesh from his leg and cooked into food, which survived the prince.
19 years later, Chongger prince had been a powerful king of his state. His followers were greatly awarded and honored. But Chonger forgot an important man Jiezitui. When others referred to Jiezitui, Chonger remembered and felt shammed. Immediately he sent someone to invited Jiezitui and conferred a title. Jiezitui refused several times. Then the king decided to invite personally. But before Chonger came, Jiezitui heard the news and hided himself on a mountain together with his aged mother. Jiezitui refused to see the king and no one could find him on the mountain.
Everything could not help Chonger, he had to use other's idea and wanted to force Jiezitui out to see him by firing the mountain. But there was still no result after three days and nights' firing. Unfortunately, Chonger and his people eventually found two dead bodies – Jiezitui and his mother in a cave under a willow tree on the mountain. Jiezitui left a will to the king who cried sadly and regretfully on that day. Chonger king buried Jiezitui and his mother decently and built a grand tomb there. Chonger hold a memorial ceremony for the tomb on that day every year. Later on, the king called his subjects to make no fire and eat cold food on the day. Since then Cold Food Day and its customs was spread.
Now, the annual Tomb-sweeping Day (April 4th or 5th) has become a legal festival (recognized in 2008) for Chinese people to yearningly recall their ancestors and pay thanksgiving to their ancestors' outstanding achievements.
Tomb-sweeping Day's customs are rich and very interesting. Except for tomb sweeping, lots of activities such as swing, spring outing, tree planting, kite flying and eave willow leaves inserting are held to exercise people who make no fire and is against the "Cold" at that time. Moreover, these exercising can lighten sad atmosphere on Tomb-sweeping Day.
Also, a range of "Cold Food" are made from sticky rice and wheat and tasted by Chinese people on the day.
Many tombs are located on the hills, mountains and fields. So Qingming Jie is also a good outing day for many Chinese people.
Apart from the Chinese names, Qingming, or Qingming Jie, Tomb-sweeping Day has other English translated names: Pure Brightness Festival, Tomb-sweeping Day, and Pure Bright Festival.
On Pure Brightness Festival, Chinese pupils usually visit the martyrs' parks led by their teachers.
College students in different cities also visit the memorial parks.
On Qingming, the police, army and officers from the government will visit the martyrs' parks.
On annual Qingming Jie, Chinese people from all over the world visit the Huang Di Mausoleum (Yellow Emperor's Tomb) in Shaanxi Province. On this day, many foreigners come and watch the very traditional ceremony.