Qingming Festival: A dialogue between the dead and the living

BEIJING, April 4, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- A news report by China.org.cn on Chinese ways of remembering the dead:

"Coco," this year's winner of the Academy Award for best animated feature, provides a vivid description of the "Day of the Dead" in Mexico, during which people "reunite" with their deceased ancestors in a grand and joyous celebration. Tomorrow, China will remember the dead with a similar occasion, known as the Qingming Festival. However, it is nothing like the festive Mexican way of marking the event, nor is it a day for celebration.

On that day, the most important custom for Chinese people is to sweep the graves of their deceased relatives, offer fruits and flowers, light candles and burn paper money, so as to "talk" with the dead. The festival has very little to do with religion, but is more like a unique way of expressing emotions. The practice has been carried on for thousands of years, and is observed principally by people of all ranks throughout the country.

The tomb-sweeping tradition demonstrates Chinese people's strong attachment to their families and to the national culture. Huangdi, or Yellow Emperor, has long been considered as the ancestor of the Chinese nation who began the Chinese civilization. In recent years, many Chinese expats, along with their overseas-born offspring, would come back on the festival and attend the grand public ceremony in honor of the legendary figure, as they see the occasion a rare opportunity to seek their roots.

On that day, people will also visit cemeteries of revolutionary martyrs, who gave their lives during anti-aggression wars in China's modern history. Flowers will be sent and poems recited in memory of their brave undertakings.

Qingming Festival is unique in Chinese culture, as it's both a folk festival and one of China's 24 solar terms, the divisions of an ancient calendar to guide farming activities based on the changes in climate. The day is usually rainy and misty, adding to the solemn atmosphere. After the rainy season, the trees and grass will turn greener and everything becomes full of vitality. In this light, mourning the dead may not be that sad and gloomy; by remembering the dead, we also receive the hope and strength to carry on.

China Mosaic

Qingming Festival: A dialogue between the dead and the living

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