The Qingming festival, also known as Tomb-Sweeping Day in English (sometimes also called Chinese Memorial Day or Ancestors’ Day), is a traditional Chinese festival observed by the Han Chinese of mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and by the Chitty of Malaysia and Singapore. It falls on the first day of the fifth solar term of the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar. This makes it the 15th day after the Spring Equinox, either 4, 5 or 6 April in a given year. During Qingming, Chinese families visit the tombs of their ancestors to clean the gravesites, pray to their ancestors and make ritual offerings. Offerings would typically include traditional food dishes and the burning of joss sticks and joss paper. The holiday recognizes the traditional reverence of one’s ancestors in Chinese culture.
The Qingming Festival has been observed by the Chinese for over 2500 years. It became a public holiday in mainland China in 2008. In Taiwan, the public holiday was in the past observed on 5 April to honor the death of Chiang Kai-shek on that day in 1975, but with Chiang’s popularity waning, this convention is not being observed. A similar holiday is observed in the Ryukyu Islands, called Shīmī in the local language.
In mainland China, the holiday is associated with the consumption of qingtuan, green dumplings made of glutinous rice and Chinese mugwort or barley grass. A similar confection called caozaiguo or shuchuguo, made with Jersey cudweed, is consumed in Taiwan.
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