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Traditional Chinese Tomb-sweeping Day

The Tomb-sweeping Day is one of the 24 segments of the Chinese calender . After the festival, the temperature will rise up and rainfall increases. It is the high time for spring plowing and sowing. But the Tomb-sweeping Day is not only a seasonal point to guide farm work, it is more a festival of commemoration. It is a combination of sadness and happiness,perhaps bittersweet. It's a time to remember the dead and the dearly departed. Moreover, it is a period to honour and to pay respect to one's deceased ancestors and family members.

The Tomb-sweeping Day originated from Hanshi Day, a memorial day for Jie Zitui,who died in 636 BC in the Spring and Autumn Period. It is said that Jie saved the starving Duke Wen of Jin's life by serving a piece of his own leg. However, when the Wen succeeded in becoming the ruler,Jie declined his invitation,preferring to lead a hermit's life with his mother in mountains. Believing that he could force Jie out by burning the mountain, the lord ordered his men to set the forest on fire. To his consternation, Jie chose to remain where he was and was burnt to death. To commemorate Jie, the lord ordered all fires in every home to be put out on the anniversary of Jie's death. Thus began the "cold food feast", a day when no food could be cooked since no fire could be lit.The "cold food" festival occurs on the eve of The Tomb-sweeping Day and is often considered as a part of the Qing Ming festival. As time passes, the Tomb-sweeping Day replaced the "cold food" festival. Whatever practice is observed,the basic observation of Qing Ming is to remember one's elders by making a special effort to visit their graves, ashes or ancestral tablets. To make the visit even more meaningful, some time should be spent to remind the younger members of the family of the lives and contributions of their ancestors, and the story of Jie Zi Zhui who choose death over capitulation.

Today the major custom in the Tomb-sweeping Day is tomb sweeping. According to folk religion, the spirits of deceased ancestors still live underground and look after the family; the tombs are said to be their houses; thus it is very important to keep the tombs clean.The Tomb-sweeping Day is spent honoring the dead, which is one of many ways good Confucians demonstrate filial piety. On this day, people visit their family graves to remove any underbrush that has grown. They would uproot weeds near the grave sites, wipe the tombstones and decorate the tombstones with fresh flowers. And then they will set out offerings of food and paper money.

Not only is it a day for commemorating the dead, is it also a festival for people to enjoy themselves. It is a fine time to go out and to appreciate the beautiful scenes of nature during the festival. This custom can be traced back to the Tang Dynasty and followed by each dynasty later till today. So visitors can be seen everywhere during the month of the festival.Spring outings not only add joy to life but also promote a healthy body and mind.

Also the flying kites is an activity favored by many people during The Tomb-sweeping Day. Kites are not only flown at day time but also in the evening. Little lanterns are tied to the kite or to the string that holds the kite. And when the kite is flying in the sky, the lanterns look like twinkling stars that add unique scenery to the sky during the night. What makes flying kites during this festival special is that people cut the string while the kite is in the sky to let it fly free. It is said this brings good luck, people also enjoy hope of spring on this day.

In contrast to the sadness of the tomb swew look,as trees turn green,flowers blossom,and the sun shines brightly.
Just like the classic Chinese poem said:
A drizzling rain falls on the Mourning Day;
The mourner's heart is breaking on his way.
Enquiring, where can a winehouse be found?
A cowherd points to Apricot Flower Village in the distance.