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What Is Tomb Sweeping Day?
2013-04-24 00:40

Tomb Sweeping Day is a one-day Chinese holiday to commemorate and pay respect to a person’s ancestors. On Tomb Sweeping Day, families visit the gravesite of their ancestors to show their respect. Tomb Sweeping Day is also known as Clear Brightness Festival and Taqing Festival.

The alternative name Clear Brightness Festival comes from the weather, which is usually clear and bright during the third lunar month (April) when Tomb Sweeping Day is celebrated. The festival was originally the Cold Food Festival that began during the Early Zhou Dynasty, but it evolved into a tomb sweeping festival during the Tang Dynasty when the Tang emperor would gift fire to his officials. The emperor would light a fire and light branches that he gave to his officials. While the fires would be extinguished by the time the officials made it to their homes, they would leave the branches on their doorsteps. During the Song Dynasty, candles were used instead.

In addition to visiting cemeteries, people also go for walks in the countryside, plant willows, and fly kites on Tomb Sweeping Day. Those who cannot travel back to their ancestors’ gravesites may opt to pay their respects at martyrs parks to pay homage to revolutionary martyrs.

Tomb Sweeping Day is held 107 days after the start of winter and is celebrated on April 4 or April 5, depending on the lunar calendar. Tomb Sweeping Day is a national holiday in China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan with most people having the day off from work or school to allow time to travel to ancestral gravesites.

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