Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Chinese Honor Their Ancestors During the Qingming Festival

On April 5th ancestors all over China will be remembered by their families and loved ones during the holiday known as the Qingming Festival. The festival, also called Ancestors Day or Tomb Sweeping Day, presents an opportunity for the Chinese to visit the grave sites of their deceased loved ones to remember and celebrate them. 

It is traditional for participants to sweep the grave sites clean and then present tea, food, wine, and chopsticks as a sign of love and respect. After the dead have been honored, the celebration continues with fun family outings. Families will fly kites in the shapes of animals, attend festivals with singing and dancing, and enjoy the new spring weather. This is also a day seen as the perfect time for young couples to begin dating. 

The festival is seen as a time to reflect and honor on the accomplishments of those who came before them and, above all, a time to be with family and cherish those close to you. In Southeast Asian nations, including Singapore and Malaysia, the holiday has been taken very seriously and the rituals followed faithfully all the way back since the Ming and Qing Dynasties. In addition to the traditional celebrations, Malaysian communities celebrate the festival with a huge family gathering and a visit to a Buddhist or Taoist temple. 

The creation of the festival can be attributed to the Tang Emperor Xuanzong, dating back to over 2,500 years ago. He observed that wealthy Chinese families were holding dozens of extravagant ceremonies to honor their ancestors, which was costing a lot of money, so he declared that the 15th day after the Spring Equinox would become the new official day for the remembrance and celebration of ancestors. 

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