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Qing Ming Festival & Cold Food Day  

2010-04-03 00:33:45|  分类: 节日 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Translations:
Tomb Sweeping Day
Clear Bright Festival
All Souls Day
Ancestors Day
Grave Sweeping Day
Chinese Memorial Day

Qing Ming, means Clear Bright in Chinese. Astronomically it is the 5th solar term in the traditional lunar calendar. Usually it occurs around April 5 of the Gregorian calendar. At this time, spring returns and dominates the earth again. The feel of growing life is in the air, with sap ascending in trees and buds bursting. People pay respects to ancestors, hold memorial ceremony; they go to sweep and weed graves and express grief for the loved ones who have passed away. It is also a time to enjoy spring and nature. People often take an excursion in the countryside as well.
 
Cold Food Day is the very day just before the Qingming Festival. On the day every year, no fire or smoke is allowed and people shall eat cold food for the whole day. This custom can be traced back to over one thousand years ago.

During the Period of Spring and Autumn in the Jin Kingdom, one of the King's sons was called Chong Er. He was set up by an imperial concubine and had to flee, long in exile. There were some officials with him and Jie Zitui was one among those  followers. They hid themselves in a mountain and for quite some time they didn't have any food. Jie Zitui prepared some meat soup for Chong Er but it turned out that Jie took great pain to cut some flesh from his thigh and cooked it.

The young master was moved to tears and knelt down in gratitude. He promised to reward him one day. However, Jie was not the type of person who sought rewards. He replied his best repayment should be a just king. They lived a life of hunger and cold for three years until the evil concubine died. Many soldiers were sent to look for him and to escort him back home. Going into the carriage, he saw an official packed an old mat onto a horse, he said laughingly, “What on earth is the use of that? Throw it away!” Jie Zitui heard it and sighed, “It is hardship that can be shared with his majesty but not prosperity.” So he went away quietly and lived in seclusion with his old mother.

Chong Er became Duke Wen of Jin and rewarded the people who helped him in the decades, but for some reason he forgot Jie. He did not realize it until was reminded. He went to the forest, but couldn't find Jie. Heeding suggestions from his officials, Wen ordered men to set the forest on fire to force out Jie, however, finally they found Jie and his mother scorched under a willow. He would rather die than yield to the power.

Duke Wen was so overwhelmed with regret. He ordered three days without fire to honour Jie's memory. The county where Jie died is still called Jiexiu (literally meaning the place Jie rests forever). So every year on that day folks mourned for him and the day before ate cold meals, which avoided making fire. Later the custom of inserting willow branches on gates was also added.

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