Ching Ming Festival
Ching Ming Festival is a traditional Chinese festival that usually falls on either 4 or 5 April every year. It is a day to pay homage to ancestors and is also known as Tomb-Sweeping Day. The festival is on the 15th day from the solar term in March, Spring Equinox. Another way to calculate the date is 106 or 107 days after the Winter Solstice in December. The majority of Chinese people usually visit the graveyards of their ancestors twice a year, one at Ching Ming in spring, another one at Chung Yeung Festival in autumn. Some folks like Hakka people start ‘visiting their ancestors’ at Chinese New Year. Ching Ming Festival is not only celebrated in the Greater China Region, but also observed in Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore.
Ching Ming Festival Origin
Ching Ming, literally means clean and bright. At this time of the year, all living things wake up from their winter sleep and start to grow. Sprouts and newborns are clean and bright and hence the name of the festival.
Regarding the origins of Ching Ming Festival, it is said that the ancient Chinese emperors had the ritual of ancestor worship. The practice had been spread to the general public and still remains valid nowadays.
This graveyard sweeping custom is not only an expression of filial piety or gratitude for ancestors, but also a traditional way to unite the family or the clan. Many people pray to their ancestors in hope of receiving blessings and being protected by their spirits. It is a kind of Chinese folk religion.
The activities of Ching Ming Festival are more than visiting graveyards. Traditionally, people go spring outing, kites flying, soccer and swings playing, tug of war playing, chicken fighting, green dumpling eating, tree planting and so on.
Ching Ming Festival Hong Kong 2017
People always bring some Ching Ming Festival food or sacrificial offerings like flowers, roast suckling pig or roast pork, steamed chicken, steamed buns, rice wine and fresh fruit when visiting the graveyards of their ancestors. They light incense, burn joss paper, sweep ancestors’ graveyards, repaint headstone inscriptions and remove surrounding weeds. Other than paper shoes and clothes, people sometimes burn paper models of mobile phones and other electronic products so as to let their ancestors keeping up with the trend. In addition, some people, especially villagers, still keep the tradition of burning firecrackers before leaving the graveyards for auspicious reasons.
Ching Ming is a public holiday in Hong Kong and Macao. The silent cemeteries and hillside graves can be as hustle and bustle as the city centre if the weather is good. To avoid the crowd, some people often go tomb sweeping a month before or after the Ching Ming Festival Day.
Other than the crowd, some people set fire to remove weeds thoughtlessly while the others burn joss paper carelessly, which may result in hill fire. So, if you plan to go hiking during the festival, try to avoid those routes near to cemeteries, especially in the New Territories where all clansmen of the same villages have ancestor worship ceremonies at hillside graveyards together.
Hope that you have better understanding of Ching Ming Festival.
Lastly, I would like to dedicate this article to my late grandmother whom I miss so badly.
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