Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Chinese Respect Their Ancestors During the Qingming Festival

The people of China are all beginning their preparations in anticipation of tomorrow's celebration of the Qingming Festival. Also known as Ancestor's day or Tomb Sweeping Day, the Qingming Festival is a traditional Chinese festival. This very traditional and cultural festival is celebrated 104 days after the winter solstice and 15 days after the Spring Equinox, making it fall on April 4th this year. There are several different purposes of this day and various traditional activities are performed to acknowledge this special day. It is a time dedicated to the spring, encouraging people to stop and enjoy the greenery and beauty that this time of year brings after the long winter. 

The first, and most important, custom of the Qingming festival is the sweeping of ancestors' and loved ones' tombs. Family members reserve this day to visit the tombs of their loved ones who have passed, bringing with them wine and their favorite foods. Weeds are cleared from around the tomb and fresh soil is added in order to pay respects and show care

Another custom held dear to those who celebrate the Qingming Festival is flying kites. On this day, people across China-young and old- gather together to fly handmade kites of all different shapes and sizes. The most beautiful part of kite flying comes when the sun sets.

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Once the evening comes, it is tradition for the Chinese people to attach tiny colored lanterns to their kites before flying them, making them look like twinkling stars in the night sky. Cutting the strings of the kites and letting them fly freely is a custom that is believed to bring good luck to the kite owner. 
The traditional food of the Qingming Festival is the delicious sweet green rice ball. The custom of preparing and eating the sweet green rice balls is a ritual that dates back to the Zhou Dynasty, over 2,000 years ago! 

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