We are going to talk about the story of a coming traditional holiday in today’s “learning Chinese outside classroom”. Tomb Sweeping Day or 清明 (qīng míng) in Chinese, is a day to visit the grave of your ancestors to pay respect. It’s usually celebrated either the 4th or the 5th of April. The day can also be celebrated by flying kites to keep away illnesses and enjoy the springtime.
According to a very old tale, Qīng Míng Festival was originally held to commemorate a very loyal man who lived more than 2000 years ago, named Jie Zitui. He selflessly cut a piece of meat from his own leg in order to save his hungry lord who was forced to go into exile. The lord finally came back to his position nineteen years later, but shamefully he had forgotten Jie.
After a while, he finally remembered his sacrifice so he tried to find Jie to reward him, but Jie had hidden himself up a mountain with his mother because Jie didn’t want to be seen as someone who shows their loyalty in exchange of fame and money. The lord in his terrible wisdom decided that the best way to make Jie come down was to set fire to the mountain!
After the fire was put out Jie and his mother were found dead. The lord was so sad and forbade others from eating hot food that day every year. Only to find the following year that trees had begun to grow where Jie had been found dead, he then decided to celebrate this day every year as a remembrance for the sacrifices those who have come before us have made.
The word “Qīng míng” is also a solar term. It literally means “fresh and bright”. This is what’s April is like in most regions of China: everything begins to grow and it rains a lot. The world turns colorful again and the rain gently nourishes the world. In such as wonderful time of the year, besides cleaning the grave of beloved ones that have passed away, people also go outside to enjoy the spring. Parents take their children to the parks, fly kites or picnic together. Live for today is another theme of this festival!
What do you think of the Tomb Sweeping festival? What do you do to celebrate those who came before you?