Everything You Need to Know About the Qingming Festival

Also known as Tomb Sweeping Day or Pure Brightness, the Qingming Festival takes place every year in early April. This year, it’s celebrated on April 5, 2019. Qingming is the second of 24 solar terms within the traditional Chinese solar calendar. This is when people head outside and start enjoying the rebirth of spring.

The Chinese have been celebrating this festival for more than 2,500 years. It’s an important day whereby people show respect for their ancestors and worship them with celebrations such as tomb sweeping and cleaning, food and drink, kites and fire crackers.

This traditional Chinese festival is a day of commemorating ancestors, with tomb sweeping being one of the most popular activities that displays respect – a big part of the death culture of China. There are many ways to celebrate this momentous occasion, in addition to tomb sweeping.

You can celebrate by:

  • Going on a spring outing
  • Flying a kite
  • Placing willow branches on gates
  • Getting outside and generally experiencing the greenery of spring

Tomb Sweeping

This is the main act of celebration for the Qingming Festival, whereby people visit their deceased ancestors’ graves to offer food, and tea or wine. They also burn incense or offer joss paper (to represent money). In addition to sweeping out the tombs, they also remove any weeds that are present and add fresh soil to each grave. They may also place willow branches, flowers, or plants on the tomb. They will also pray before the graves and ask for blessings for their families.

Willow Branches

People may also wear soft willow branches on their heads and in their hair. They’ll also place the branches on front doors and gates in an effort to ward off evil spirits that wander around during Qingming. Willows are considered to be magical, a claim that comes from Buddhist influence.

Spring Outings

Qingming is also known as Taqing Festival, which means a spring outing. This is a day when people get outside to enjoy the spring blossoms. The weather is starting to warm up around this time and the day can be very pleasant.

Kite Flying

Young and old get outside during the festival to fly kites. People tie small colored lanterns to their kites or to the strings holding them. The lanterns then resemble twinkling stars when flown at night.


There are many different traditional foods consumed during the festival, including:

  • Sweet green rice balls
  • Qingming cakes
  • Qingming snails
  • Peach blossom porridge

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