Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Ching Ming Festival

The Ching Ming Festival (清明节) in year 2009 falls on 4th April.

Ching Ming Festival is the 106th day after the Winter Solstice Day (冬至), and falls around 5th of April of the Gregorian calendar (solar calendar), which is also the 15th days from the Spring Equinox (春分).

Ching Ming is an important traditional Chinese festival celebrated by the Han Clan (汉族) for over 2,500 years. Today, this festival is also celebrated by other Chinese clans as well.

Ching (清) in Chinese translated to "Clear" or "Pure", and Ming (明) translated to "Bright". Therefore, Ching Ming Festival is also known as Clear Brightness Festival or Pure Brightness Festival.

The ancient Chinese is an agricultural society. Ching Ming Festival indicates the time to start farming for the year. When Ching Ming arrives, the cold weather from previous winter begins to turn warm, there will be more rains, plants and animals show their active sign of life again. Therefore, Ching Ming is the day of transition from Ying (阴) back to Yang (阳), which brings more "clear" and "brightness" to earth.

During the ancient time, the Chinese will take bath in the river to wash away unfortune and evil from the body (祓除畔浴). It was also a tradition for married women who wish to get pregnant to pray at the riverside for fertility.

Today, the Chinese has 2 major traditional activities for this festival. One is spring hiking (踏青) which can be family outings, young couples start courting, swinging, flying kites, kicking ball, planting trees, etc. Another major activity is tomb sweeping (扫墓), which is to visit the grave of departed family members or ancestors, sweep and clean the tombs, pray and offer the ancestors.

The activities might not be carried out on the actual day of Ching Ming, and can be any days within a month (normally within 2 weeks) from the actual day.


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