Tomb Sweeping Day or Ching Ming Festival typically falls on the first few days in April – this year it is celebrated on Wednesday, April the 5th. We’ve compiled a handy guide that answers all the questions your little ones may have on the significance of this auspicious day that celebrates the arrival of Spring while commemorating the past, as well as what to do and what to eat in Hong Kong.
The origins of the Ching Ming festival date back to the 6th century B.C., when it was claimed that the Duke Wen of Jin had accidentally killed his most trusted subject Jie Zitui in a fire that he had ordered. The Duke was so heartbroken that he banned the use of fire for three days thereafter as a sign of respect and commemoration to Jie - a period also known as the Hanshi or Cold Food Festival.
Nowadays, as the name would suggest, the practices on the day of the Ching Ming Festival center around the sweeping of loved ones' graves. People and families gather to pay their respects at this annual festival and to maintain the resting grounds of their ancestors and loved ones. It is a time of commemoration and calm rather than of grief, as stray weeds are removed to make way for fresh soil, and the ushering in of new beginnings and of Spring. Graves are decorated with festive artifacts, incense sticks are lit and paper offerings (representing money or other useful and valuable items) are burnt in the hope that these will be transformed for their ancestors to use in the afterlife. Kite flying is also a popular activity on the day as it signifies the warding off of bad spirits.
Public transport routes (click here for this year's alternative arrangements) to popular graveyards can get quite busy during the Ching Ming Festival, so if you are planning a day out you will need to account for that.
It is customary to eat only cold food during the Ching Ming Festival and what is served varies between families and regions that celebrate the day. The most popular dish perhaps is a green, glutinous rice dumpling, containing a sweet filling of beans. Otherwise traditional tea is served as well as rice wines, as a commemoration.
All that talk of food get you feeling pecking? Click on for the best family-friendly dim sum restaurants in Hong Kong that the kids will love!
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