Qingming also was known as tomb sweeping festival is a festival observed by many ethnic Chinese all over the world. It is known by many as the day we honor and remember our deceased ancestors and loved once. We usually gather as a family to either visit the cemetery, columbarium or temple where the remains of our loved once are placed.
Food offerings would be made, red candles and joss sticks would be lit and family members would pay respects by kowtowing, kneeling or bowing, usually with lighted joss sticks in their hands. Paper offerings such as mock money, paper clothes, cars, houses, and maids would also be burnt to ensure that our loved once are not short of material comforts in the after world.
Ever wondered what this little date marked Qingming is about?
NO WORRIES! Here are 5 interesting facts about Qingming
Qingming dated back to 2500 Years.
Qingming has been observed for 2500 years. It started in the Zhou dynasty where many emperors, kings and wealthy officials held extravagant ceremonies to honour their ancestors. They would offer sacrifice and pray for peace, prosperity and good harvest.
It was only during the Han dynasty when Qingming became a festival observed by the masses, and during the Tang dynasty when Qingming gradually became popular as the emperors emphasised paying respects to our ancestors during Qingming as filial piety.
From then on, the Chinese people started to tend to their family graves during Qingming and to offer paper and food offerings. In this way, they believe that their deceased ancestors will know that they have not forgotten them and in return bless them with prosperity.
Praying to houtu 后土Houtu,
also known as the earth deity are like the guardians of the area. We usually pay our respects to the earth deity in the respective cemeteries/columbarium/temple before paying respects to our ancestors as a show of respect and to pray for the offerings to be protected against wandering spirits.
Do not burn the candles along with joss offerings.
The candles that are lit up are believed to shine a light and bring brightness to the family and the spirits of deceased ancestors. They are also believed to represent the sun and the moon gods （日月神）. Burning the candles along with the joss offerings would mean burning away the light and brightness that it brings to the family and the spirits of deceased ancestors.
The bearded man on the paper notes is the jade emperor.
Yu Huang also known as the jade emperor is the emperor of heaven. So much like how Queen Elizabeth appears on every UK pound.
Qingming originated from han shi jie （寒食节）
Legend has it that during spring autumn era, during the Zhou dynasty, prince wen of the feudal state of Jin went into exile to avoid political prosecution during his childhood. When prince wen almost starved to death, an accompanying official named Jie zitui （介子推）made a bowl of soup with flesh from his thigh that saved prince wen’s life. 19 years later prince wen returned to the state of jin and became its ruler. The now, Duke Wen rewarded and honoured his followers generously. However, he forgo
It was then when the duke personally went in search for Jie and offered to confer onto him a title. Jie declined and retreated into the mountains with his aged mother as he only wanted to help the prince return and rule the feudal state of Jin. He did not want anything in return. In order to force Jie out of the mountains, Duke Wen ordered his men to set the forest on fire. However, Jie refused to come out of the mountains and three days later, Jie and his mother's body were found dead (burnt to death).
To honour the man that served wholeheartedly and never sought fame, Duke Wen buried them respectably and held a memorial service. He ordered his men not to light a fire and to eat cold food. It was the following year, on his death anniversary that he went to commemorate Jie at his tomb. Duke Wen saw the burnt willow tree grow back to life and remembered Jie's noble character. The Duke was so touched that he swept Jie’s tomb and went on to name that day hanshijie (寒食节) and ordered his subjects not to light fires and eat cold uncooked food on that day to commemorate Jie.
It was only in the Tang dynasty that has shi jie evolved into qing ming Jie.
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