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The Qingming Festival: Tomb Sweeping Day

Updated on February 4, 2018
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Katleigh is interested in the culture and customs of the world and hopes to travel to in the future.

Brightly covered papers placed near a grave in Bukit Brown Cemetery, Singapore during the Qingming Festival.
Brightly covered papers placed near a grave in Bukit Brown Cemetery, Singapore during the Qingming Festival. | Source

What is the Qingming Festival?

The Qingming Festival, or Tomb Sweeping Day, is a yearly day of celebration where families gather to tend to graves, burial grounds, mausoleums, and other places of rest. It takes place every year on April 4th and is celebrated in China and other surrounding Asian countries.

However, Tomb Sweeping Day is not a solemn occasion. Relatives decorate graves and remember the lives of their loved ones and pay their respects.


Tomb Sweeping Day is also used to take care of cemetery sites.
Tomb Sweeping Day is also used to take care of cemetery sites. | Source

Traditional Qingming Festival Customs

The two most important activities of Tomb Sweeping Day are taking care of graves and making offerings. As the name would suggest, clean their loved one's places of rest. Pulling weeds, clearing out cobwebs, or adding fresh soil to ground burials are all common ways to show respect to the deceased.

The second aspect of the Qingming Festival is leaving offerings for the dead. Colored pieces of paper in the shape of household items, like cash and food, are burnt so that the honored dead aren't lacking in earthly pleasures in the afterlife. Favorite foods and drinks are also offered.


An American Take on Tomb Sweeping Day

© 2017 Katleigh Merrier

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