Pure Brightness Festival, also called Tomb-Sweeping Day or Qingming Festival, is a very peculiar one among all the traditional Chinese festivals and is still popular today.
It is a great festival as well as an important seasonal division point. 107 days later than the Beginning of Winter, 15 days later than the Spring Solstice and around April 4th – 6th each year, it plays a special role in the alternation of seasons.
The weather will usually be bright and clean on the Pure Brightness Day. People often go to sweep the tombs of their relatives, offer sacrifices to their ancestors, go for a walk in the countryside and plant trees on this day.
The Chinese people have traditional respect to the seniors, especially to their forefathers that have passed away. Therefore every time when it comes to the Pure Brightness Festival, the families will pay a solemn visit to the tombs of their forefathers. They remove the weed around the tombs, add some new earth to them, burn joss sticks and put some food and paper money there to show their sincere affection and respect to the dead. This is called “shangfen” in Chinese or “sweeping the tombs”. However, as cremation is gradually taking the place of ground burying, it is harder to see tombs in the fields nowadays. But still people can commemorate their forefathers in other ways or they can go to the martyrs’ park and mourn for them by offering flowers and wreaths onto their tombs.
At the time of Pure Brightness Festival, the weather is becoming warmer and warmer; trees and grass began to shoot up, the open country is flooded with vigorous greenness – it’s just the right time for people to go outside and relax themselves. Since 2008, the government has made the regulation that Pure Brightness Festival will be a public holiday when people can enjoy three-day holiday break.
Usually people will go to the countryside with their friends for the holiday, to breathe the fresh air and indulge themselves in the blue sky, green trees and grass and beautiful flowers. The ancient people called the custom of walking in the countryside “Taqing”, so the Pure Brightness Festival is also known as “Taqing Festival”. There was also a custom of picking shepherd’s-purse while walking in the countryside and it can be seen today. Some people will pick fresh potherb and make dumplings of them. There are also some other customs on the Pure Brightness Festival, such as flying kites, playing tug-of-war and playing swings.