Qingming Jie means clear and bright in Chinese. Qingming Festival, also know as Tomb Sweeping Day is one of the 24 solar terms in the Chinese solar calendar. It is one of the most symbolic of festivals celebrated in Taiwan. Tomb Sweeping Day is held 107 days after the start of winter. This day usually falls on April 4 or April 5, depending on the lunar calendar. In Taiwan, the public holiday is observed on April 5 each year in honour of the death of political and military leader Chiang Kai-shek on that day in 1975.
From honouring the dead to welcoming the season of spring these are the things you need to know about Qingming Festival.
It has a fascinating origin story
An exiled prince named Chong’er was served loyally by his official named Jie Zitui, who once even cut his own flesh to feed the starving prince. After Chong’er was reinstated to his throne as duke, Jie Zitui retreated to the forest with his mother. The duke realised that he hadn’t rewarded Jie Zitui as yet and went to find him. He set fire to the forest in order to force Jie Zitui out but when the fire died down, he found the charred remains of his loyal servant and his mother beside a willow tree. Filled with remorse the duke ordered three days of memorial for Jie Zitui and the city erected over the former forest is still came to be known as Jiexiu. This is why during this festival, people also follow the tradition of carrying and hanging willow branches.
It is a day to remember the departed
The term “Tomb Sweeping” comes from the custom of cleaning tombs and grave sites as a sign of respect for the dead. On this day people remember the departed by sweeping the tomb, taking the dead person’s favourite food and wine and pouring them on the graves. Some also burn paper that symbolise money. This is done to ensure that the dead are not deprived of food and money. The Chinese also pay homage to the dead martyrs on Tomb Sweeping Day.
It is a celebration of Spring
Like so many festivals across the word, Tomb Sweeping Day or Qingming festival is also a celebration of the changing of seasons. Locals get involved in a lot of outdoor activities on this days like kite flying, tree planting, carrying flowers, riding on swings and having family outings. As it happens during spring, young couples are also meant to start a courtship during this time.
It has an agricultural connection
Tomb Sweeping Day or Qingming Festival signals the coming of warm weather and rainfall. It is an important time for plowing and sowing. The festival is also connected to the Chinese tea culture. Green teas made from leaves picked before this date are known as pre-qingming and are valued for their lighter aromas, fetching higher prices in the market than other green teas.
To take in a bit of Taiwanese culture on this year’s Tomb Sweeping Day, indulge in the exclusive Moon of Taj sweets that brings the rich flavours and vibrant culture of Taiwan to the saccharin loving Indians.