Qing Ming Festival

The Qing Ming Festival, literally meaning Pure Brightness Festival, takes place on the fifteenth day after the spring equinox. As a holiday devoted to remembering and honoring the deceased, people sweep and decorate gravesites, burn incense and paper money, and make food offerings. Observed for more than 2,500 years, the festival traditions derive primarily from Confucianism, which emphasizes respect and filial piety to the deceased. A popular dish for this time of year is qingtuan, which are green dumplings made of glutinous rice and Chinese mugwort or barley grass. After visiting tomb sites, celebrants may enjoy the spring weather with picnics and kite flying. They may also carry willow branches or place them on gates. It is believed that the willow branches will defend people from the evil spirits that may be wandering the Earth on Qing Ming.

Questions for Discussion

  • How does your family honor and remember family members who have passed away?
  • Compare the Qing Ming Festival to the Mexican Day of the Dead festival. What similarities and differences can you find?
  • Research the concept of filial piety that is part of Confucianism. How has this belief shaped Chinese culture?