The Chinese Qingming Festival is a time to commemorate and honor family heritage. Respecting parents and ancestors is very important in Chinese culture. During Qingming, people visit cemeteries to sweep and clean the graves of loved ones. It is a tradition to show respect to those who have passed by leaving offerings of flowers, food and baskets of fruit. Families bow at the memorials and burn incense and Joss paper as a way to insure the blessings of prosperity from their ancestors.
Qingming falls on the 15th day after the spring equinox, usually occurring in early April. The name combines the meaning of Qing—clear or pure—and Ming—bright. The pronunciation of Qing also sounds like the character for green, which is why the festival celebrates the return of spring.
Spring is the best picking season for Chinese green tea. It is commonly believed that the most premium kind of green tea came from the leaves were picked before the Qingming Festival before temperatures rise and the leaves are still tender. The best kind of Dragon Well tea (Longjing) is produced from the first spring shoots, it is called the Ming Qian (Pre-Qingming) Dragon Well. The production cycle of this specialty tea is very short—usually only ten days before Qingming every year. Tea picked after this period is of a lower grade…now you know what to order at the tea house!
Following shangfen or the ‘sweeping the tombs,’ families celebrate the rebirth of spring by exercising, playing outdoor games, and by flying kites! During Qingming, kite flying is not limited to daytime, but also occurs at night. Lanterns are often tied to kite strings and flown after dark. Kites in the shapes of animals and legendary heroes are flown to assure fertility, happiness and success. Tradition states that the higher the kite is flown, the more peace, prosperity and blessings are guaranteed.
Take part in the custom of honoring family by writing a fond memory or wish for your ancestors and tying it to the branch of the special memory tree at Lan Su as an expression of remembrance. Learn more »