10 Food for Qingming Festival - Qingming Cake, Snails...

Written by Matteo Updated Mar. 31, 2023

The traditional Qingming Festival foods include Qingming snails, sweet green rice balls, thin pancakes, and eggs, etc. Although different places have different foods for Qingming Festival (Tomb Sweeping Day), the most popular ones are as follows.

1. Sweet Green Rice Balls (Qingtuan)

Sweet green rice balls (Chinese: 青团 qīngtuán) are a popular Qingming Festival food, especially in regions south of the Yangtze River. They are made of a mixture of glutinous rice flour and Chinese mugwort juice, this is why they are jade-green. Then they will be stuffed with sweetened bean paste or sesame. 

The mugwort is only edible in the early spring, so a sweet green rice ball is typically available around the time of the Qingming Festival. 

The custom of eating sweet green rice balls at Qingming Festival developed from the traditional Chinese Cold Food Day, which was a day before Tomb Sweeping Day. On Cold Food Day, people used no fire and only ate food that didn't need heating. Therefore, food including Qingtuan can be prepared days in advance became popular. As time went by, the two festivals were gradually combined into one. Today, people in some areas of China still eat cold food during Qingming Festival.  

Qingtuan, Qingming Festival
Qingtuan, Qingming Festival

2. Thin Pancakes

Eating pancakes (Chinese: 薄饼 báo bǐng) at Qingming Festival is a custom along the southeast coast area in China. People usually roll vegetables, nori, shredded egg, and chili sauce into the pancakes.

In ancient China, people believed that vegetables wrapped in pancakes during the year indicated that farmers would prosper and livestock would thrive. In some areas, it is also believed that eating pancakes wrapped with celery will make people work harder since celery in Chinese is pronounced industrious in English. 

Pancakes, Qingming Festival
Pancakes, Qingming Festival

3. Sanzi

Eating Sanzi (Chinese: 馓子 sǎn zi) at the Qingming Festival is a traditional custom in Beijing. Sanzi is deep-fried noodles in a twisted pyramid shape, that tasted crispy and exquisite. 

Like qingtuan, the custom of eating Sanzi at the Qingming Festival developed from the traditional Chinese Cold Food Day. In ancient times, people could only eat cold food during Cold Food Day. So people made Sanzi, which is to carry and hold.

Sanzi, Qingming Festival food
Sanzi, Qingming Festival food

4. Five-color Steamed Glutinous Rice

Five-colored steamed glutinous rice (Chinese: 五色糯米饭 wǔ sè nuò mǐ fàn) is an auspicious food symbolizing a good harvest in the eye of the Zhuang people in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Every Qingming Festival, every family in Guangxi would make five-color steamed glutinous rice for ancestor worship and eating. 

Five-colored steamed glutinous rice has five colors: white, red, green, purple, and yellow. It is made by soaking glutinous rice in the colored juice of different plants. It is not only a local delicacy but also a traditional food of the Qingming Festival. Eating five-colored steamed glutinous rice on Qingming Day is believed to attract luck and fertility for the family.

Five-Color Steamed Glutinous Rice, Qingming Festival food
Five-color Steamed Glutinous Rice, Qingming Festival food

5. Qingming Snails

Snails are a dish that many people love to eat. Qingming Festival is the best time to eat snails because around the time of Qingming, snails are very fat, so they are called Qingming snails (Chinese: 清明螺 qīng míng luó). The snails are usually fried or braised in soy sauce, and cooked with onions, ginger, soy sauce, yellow wine, and sugar.

Qingming snails, Qingming Festival food
Qingming snails, Qingming Festival food

6. Peach Blossom Porridge

Peach blossom porridge (Chinese: 桃花粥 táo huā zhōu) is a kind of porridge cooked with fresh peach blossom petals and rice. It is believed that eating porridge during the Qingming Festival would bring health to people all year round. 

Peach blossom porridge, Qingming Festival food
Peach blossom porridge, Qingming Festival food

7. Zitui Bun

Zitui bun (Chinese: 子推馍 zǐ tuī mó), is a kind of steamed bun which is made from flour, eggs, and dates. It is a traditional food of Shanxi Province during the Qingming Festival. A Zitui bun usually weighs about one pound and is often made into the shape of an animal. Colorful dough flowers are used as decorations.

Eating Zitui buns symbolizes the prosperity of the family. At the same time, it expresses people's nostalgia for their ancestors 

8. Eggs

It is a tradition that Chinese people eat eggs during the Qingming Festival. Eating eggs during the Qingming Festival is said to help one keep healthy throughout the year. 

The custom of eating eggs at the Qingming Festival developed from the traditional Cold Food Day. Boiled eggs are the best food to get through this day. In some areas, people boiled eggs and then painted them with colors. Those eggs were then known as "painted eggs". 

Eggs, Qingming Festival food
Eggs, Qingming Festival food

9. Date Cake

Date cake (Chinese: 枣糕 zǎo gāo) is a simple and flavourful dessert. Some places in China have the tradition of eating date cakes during the Qingming Festival. Date cakes are made from flour, red dates, and nuts. They taste sweet and fragrant.

Eating jujube cake during Qingming implies a wish for a happy and better life. 

Date cake, Qingming Festival food
Date cake, Qingming Festival food

10. Leaf Mustard Rice

During the Qingming Festival, most places in eastern Fujian Province have the custom of eating leaf mustard, which is a local plant edible in the early spring. It is said that eating steamed rice mixed with leaf mustard (Chinese: 芥菜饭 jiè cài fàn) at the Qingming Festival would bring health throughout the year. 

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