Qing Ming Festival Legends and Traditions

Qing Ming festival seems like a representation of the circle of life. It commemorates the dead and celebrates the spring awakening.

Qing Ming festival seems like a representation of the circle of life. It commemorates the dead and celebrates the spring awakening. The festival dates more than 2500 years back. Here’s how people believe it all began and the traditions to follow…

china spring qingming festival tomb sweeping dayThe Legend

Once upon a time, there was a loyal man called Jie Zitui who cut a piece of his own leg to feed his hungry master who was sent in exile at the time. When the master came back to power almost two decades later, he forgot about Jie Zitui but after awhile felt ashamed and decided to reward him for his loyalty. Jie however, refused and hid in the mountains to live with his mother. The emperor ordered that the forest be set on fire to make Jie come out. Consequently, Jie and his mother were later found dead from the fire. To commemorate Jie Zitui, the master ordered that on that day only cold food could be eaten.

On the second year, when the master went to the mountain to sacrifice to Jie, he surprisingly found revived Willow trees. From that moment on, he proclaimed the day after the cold food day to be the Qing Ming festival.

Nowadays, the two festivals are combined as Qing Ming Festival, otherwise known as Tomb Sweeping Day or Pure Brightness Festival.


  1. Tomb Sweeping

Tomb sweeping is the most important custom that the festival itself is named after. This is the day in which Chinese people commemorate their ancestors by cleaning their tombs, placing fresh soil on them and clearing away the weeds. They bring food, wine, flowers and paper representing money then all is burned in hope the person is not lacking anything in the afterlife.

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  1. Spring Outing

Spring outing seems like the other face of the coin. It is a way to celebrate life which spring brings about. Everyone goes out and about to experience the awakening of nature, the blossoming trees, the sunshine and the warm weather.

  1. Flying Kites

During Qing Ming festival, kite flying happens not just during the day but also at night. Small lanterns are attached to the strings and they twinkle as the kite flies. While it is in the sky, people cut the kite string to bring about good fortune and eliminate diseases.

  1. Willow Branches

During the Qing Ming Festival, people wear willow branches also put them on doors and gates to protect against wondering evil spirits.

  1. Cold Food

As part of the Qing Ming Festival is Cold Food day, most food is prepared before the festival begins. Some of the most popular dishes are Qingming Cakes, Sweet Green Rice Balls and Qingming Snails.

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