April

Qingming Holiday in China – the Festival of Pure Light

Friday, 5 April Qingming Festival 2019 in China Date may vary

Qingming Holiday in China

Qingming Holiday is interesting by the fact that it is celebrated on the solar calendar. Let me remind you that the dates of most traditional Chinese festivals are determined by the lunar calendar.

Qingming is one of 24 days a year, which is called “solar states” in China. This day falls on the 15th day after the vernal equinox and falls on April 4 or 5. It is called “pure brightness” – in Chinese “qing min”, hence the name of the holiday.

The origin of Qingming

It is very ancient and is associated with agriculture. It was believed that this is the last day of the year when it is still possible to begin plowing and sowing. From this day on, the temperature rises and precipitation increases.

The second name of the Qingming holiday is “The Sweeping of Graves Festival”. On this day, it is supposed to offer sacrifices to the ancestors, but this tradition is connected with other reasons already – with a legend and one imperial decree.

Legend of the holiday of Qingming

This legend has several versions, and some of them sound very strange. I will tell the most common version of this story.

In the era of “spring and autumn” (722 – 481 BC), the prince of the kingdom of Jin named Weng was expelled and wandered for 19 years. A faithful servant, Ji Zitui, accompanied him on his travels. He was so devoted that once he cut a piece of meat from his thigh to feed the prince.

Ven became king and decided to thank Ji Zita, he ordered to find his former servant. It became known that Ji Zitui lives in solitude with his mother in the forest (according to another version, on a mountain covered with forest). Ven and his people searched for Ji Zitu in the forest, but he did not find him. And then he ordered to set fire to the forest in order to force Ji Zitu to quit.

I cannot refrain from commenting. I hope that no one will ever thank me so much, and I wish the reader the same.

But Ji Zitui and his mother were burned alive. Ven was saddened and repentant, and in order to commemorate Ji, he instituted a feast – Hanshi (“cold meal day”). On this day, no one could make a fire, cook and eat hot food.

The following year, Ven returned to the scene of the death of Ji Zitu and saw that the willows were growing on this place again. In honor of this event, Wen instituted another celebration the next day, the Qingming Festival. Subsequently, these two holidays combined.

These holidays were secondary until the 8th century. In 732, the emperor Xuanzong from the Tang dynasty made Qingming one of the country’s most important holidays. At that time, rich citizens constantly arranged magnificent ceremonies and offerings to their ancestors. It did not like the common people and created tension in the empire. Xuan Zong banned all ceremonies of sacrifices and honoring of ancestors all the days of the year, except for the Qingming Day.

Since then, the celebration of Qingming began to be called “The Day of the Sweeping of the Graves” and became one of the most important for the Chinese.

Read About Arbor Day how people celebrate this event 

Qingming Holiday Date

The date is calculated by the solar calendar. I will now say an amazing thing for many readers: the solar and Gregorian calendars do not match. It turns out that the Chinese determine the dates of holidays at once on three calendars: lunar, solar and Gregorian. Add nothing – amazing China.

The date falls on April 4 or 5. On the day of Qingming, there is an official holiday. If this day falls on a Saturday or Sunday, then the day off is postponed to Monday or Friday. Although sometimes they make exceptions, the exact holiday calendar is lower.

  • In 2014 – April 5, the official weekend – from April 5 to April 7.
  • In 2015 – April 5, the official weekend – from 4 to 6 April.
  • In 2016 – April 4, the official weekend – from April 2 to 4.
  • In 2017 – April 4, the official weekend – from 2 to 4 April.
  • In 2018 – April 5, the official weekend – from 5 to 6 April.
  • In 2019 – April 5, the official weekend – from 5 to 7 April.
  • In 2020 – April 4, the official weekend – from 4 to 6 April.

In Taiwan, it is a double celebration. April 5th marks the day of the death of Chiang Kai-shek in 1975.

Festive Dish – Tsintuan dumplings

The Chinese eat this dish with pleasure. Russians and other Europeans, it horrifies. These are green dumplings. They are made from rice flour mixed with wormwood or sprouts of barley.

Stuffing dumplings Tsintuan is a sweet paste made from Azuki or Mash beans. It tastes quite unusual – you can eat it, but I didn’t taste much pleasure.

The Qingming Holiday is not “fixated” on a festive dish, like other traditional Chinese festivals. The main thing in Qingming is the veneration of ancestors.

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