Tomb Sweeping Day (清明)

Tomb Sweeping Day (清明) is held two weeks after the vernal equinox (春分). It is on the first day of the fifth solar term of the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar. It is one of the Chinese Twenty-four Solar Terms (24节气).

This festival is an opportunity for celebrants to remember and honour their ancestors at grave sites. Young and old pray before the ancestors, sweep the tombs and offer food, tea, wine, chopsticks, joss paper, and/or libations to the ancestors. The rites have a long tradition in Asia, especially among farmers.

This festival was frequently mentioned in Chinese literature. Among these, the most famous one is probably Du Mu's (杜牧) poem.

清明時節雨紛紛

A drizzling rain falls on the Mourning Day;

路上行人欲斷魂

The mourner's heart is breaking on his way.

借問酒家何處有

Inquiring, where can a wineshop be found?

牧童遙指杏花村

A cowherd points to Apricot Flower Village in the distance

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