Qingming Festival 2024

Written by Sally Guo Updated Jun. 10, 2021

Qingming Festival/Ching Ming Festival (清明节qīng míng jié), also called Tomb-Sweeping Day in English, is a traditional festival in China. The main tradition for the festival is to honor the ancestors and deceased loved ones.

Qingming Festival 2024 falls on April 4, 2024. Chinese people will have a 3-day holiday from April 4th to 6th. 

Qingming Festival Date 2024, 2025, 2026

In China, the Qingming Festival falls on the first day of the 5th solar term of the Chinese lunar calendar, usually on the first few days of the third lunar month. The date of the festival varies each year but generally falls between April 4th, 5th, or 6th. See below the dates for the Qingming Festival 2024, 2025, 2026...

Year Date Day Holiday
2024 April 4 Thursday April 4 - 6
2025 April 4 Friday April 4 - 6
2026 April 5 Sunday April 4 - 6

How do Chinese people celebrate the Qingming Festival

The most important custom for the Qingming Festival is tomb sweeping, but there are also other activities for that day including flying kites, spring outings, hanging willow branches, and planting trees. 

Tomb Sweeping

During the Qingming Festival, Chinese people visit the tombs of their ancestors and clean them.  The Chinese believe although their ancestors had passed away, their spirits exist and could bless their descendants. So they sweep the tomb on the Qingming Festival to pay for blessings from their ancestors.  

qingming

People clean the bushes around the grave, cover the tomb with some new soil, and insert several verdant branches on the tomb. 

Offer Sacrifices to ancestors

People offer meat, fruit, tea, and wine and burn paper sacrifices like money, houses, cars, etc. They do these things earnestly with the strong belief that all these things will be sent to their loved ones in heaven.

While offering the sacrifices, they also kneel before the tombstone, saying: ancestors, please come to eat food and receive money. 

Qingming festival sacrifices

The Most popular Sacrifices to Ancestors

During festivals, people offer various sacrifices to their ancestors. Traditionally, these sacrifices included meat, wine, paper money, and golden paper ingots. However, nowadays, Chinese people believe that their ancestors deserve more for a rich afterlife, just as they do in their own lives. As a result, new offerings have emerged, such as branded bags, clothes, big apartments with pools, iPhones, and luxurious cars with drivers.

To honor their ancestors, firecrackers are set off. However, in many cities in China, burning incense, paper sacrifices, and setting off firecrackers are now prohibited. Instead, people present fresh flowers, usually chrysanthemums and lilies, as offerings.

Spring Outings

Spring outing for Qingming Festival

The Qingming Festival is also a day for people to enjoy themselves. During this time, the weather is warm, and all things come back to life, making it a great time for an outing. People will go to parks, have a picnic, go hiking in the countryside, or go to the wild to see flowers. 

Other festival activities for the Qingming Festival include:  hanging willow branches, flying kites, eating cold food,  planting trees, playing the Cuju game, and swinging on a swing   Read the top 11 Qingming Festival activities. 

What people eat during the Qingming Festival

The festival is an occasion to honor ancestors. In addition to visiting and sweeping their tombs, Chinese people also eat symbolic foods to remember their deceased loved ones and express hope for a better life. These foods include Qiantuan (green rice ball), peach blossom porridge, thin pancakes, eggs, Qingming snails, and so on.

Sweet Green Rice Ball

Sweet Green Rice Balls, Qingtuan
Sweet Green Rice Balls, Qingtuan (青团) in Chinese

In South China, people eat Sweet Green Rice Balls when going on spring outings during the Qingming Festival. It is a seasonal snack made from a mixture of glutinous rice flour and green plant juice then stuffed with sweetened bean paste or meat floss and egg yolk.

Eating Sweet Green Rice Balls during the Qingming Festival symbolizes people's expectations for a better life, hoping for happiness and health for their families.

Chinese people first made Sweet Green Rice Balls over 2,000 years old. During the Cold Food Festival, people could not use fire to boil food, but they needed things to eat.  So they created this pastry. This snack can be stored for 3-5 days and was the best cold food at that time.   

Peach Blossom Porriage

qingming festival food-Peach Blossom Porriage

Eating Peach Blossom Porriage at the Qingming Festival can ensure good health throughout the year, and protect evil spirits. 

The recipients of the porridge are very simple: rice, honey, and peach blossom. the porridge tastes fragrant and sweet. 

April is the flourishing season for beach blossom, so why not pick some peach blossoms and make a bowl of Peach Blossom porridge for your family? The fragrance is delightful, and the taste is sweet. 

Thin Pancakes

In Xiamen, the traditional food to eat during the Qingming Festival is thin pancakes. After visiting the graves, families gather together to make and eat thin pancakes. 

When Xiamen locals roll thin pancakes, they usually like to put some crispy seaweed, fried egg shreds, or a little spicy sauce inside the pancake skin. The various vegetables inside the pancakes symbolize the prosperity of crops and livestock. In some areas, it is believed that eating thin pancakes with celery or chives will make people more diligent and have a longer life. 

Continue to read the Top 10 foods for the Qingming Festival

The origin of the Qingming Festival

The Qingming Festival originated from the Cold Food Festival which is said to commemorate Jie Zitui, a nobleman of the Spring and Autumn period over 2000 years ago.  Jie saved a prince called Chong'er from starvation but was later burned alive by the prince.

Jie Zitui followed his master, the Prince of Jin, Chong'er faithfully when he fled to other countries for 19 years to avoid turmoil. When the prince was about to starve to death. Jie cut a fresh from his thigh and cooked it into a soup. The prince was then saved, and he later became a Duke.

The Duke wanted to thank Jie and offered him a high official position. But Jie Zitui had no desire for fame or fortune and retired with his mother to the Mianshan Mountains.

 The Duke set fire to the mountain to force him out, but Jie Zitui refused to leave and died under a willow tree. 

In honor of his loyal minister, the Duke buried him on Mianshan Mountain and built a temple in his honor. He also declared no one could light a fire on the day of Jie's death.  So on that day, people could only eat cold food. The day later became the Cold Food Festival. 

The origin of the Qingming Festival in China

Essential don'ts during the Qingming Festival 

There are also taboos for the festival. You should not do these things during the tomb-sweeping day. 

Should you wish "Happy Qingming Festival"

The Qingming Festival is a solemn occasion for honoring and remembering the ancestors. You can't use words associated with happiness or joy to greet somebody. Wishing someone a "Happy Qingming Festival" is a big no-no.

You can use greetings in the following ways:

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