The Qingming Festival: Chinese Tomb Sweeping Day

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Kelly Macquire
published on 30 March 2021

The Qingming Festival is held one hundred and four days after the winter solstice, and is known as the ‘pure bright festival’, ‘tomb-sweeping day’ and ‘ancestors day’. For over 2,500 years, this festival has been a day for Chinese people to visit the tombs of their ancestors to care for and clean them, which can involve literally or figuratively sweeping them.

The traditions Qingming Festival/ Tomb Sweeping Day/ Pure Bright Festival has merged with the cold food festival and is derived from the legendary history of the day, which took place over 2,500 years ago. According to Chinese folklore, the story between Prince Chong'er (who would become Duke Wen of Jin), and his loyal defender Jie Zitu is the basis for the festival today, which is a day to show respect to your ancestors, and many people still only eat cold food.


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0:00 Introduction
0:39 What is the Qing Ming Festival?
2:18 Legendary History of the Festival
5:02 Outro

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The music used in this recording is the intellectual copyright of Michael Levy, a prolific composer for the recreated lyres of antiquity, and used with the creator's permission. Michael Levy's music is available to stream at all the major digital music platforms. Find out more on:

— THUMBNAIL IMAGE —晉文公復國圖)_by_Li_Tang_(李唐),_1140.jpg
Metropolitan Museum of Art, online collection
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About the Author

Kelly Macquire
Kelly is a graduate from Monash University who has completed her BA (Honours) in Ancient History and Archaeology, focussing on iconography and status in Pylos burials. She has a passion for mythology and the Aegean Bronze Age.

Cite This Work

APA Style

Macquire, K. (2021, March 30). The Qingming Festival: Chinese Tomb Sweeping Day. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Chicago Style

Macquire, Kelly. "The Qingming Festival: Chinese Tomb Sweeping Day." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified March 30, 2021.

MLA Style

Macquire, Kelly. "The Qingming Festival: Chinese Tomb Sweeping Day." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 30 Mar 2021. Web. 14 Jul 2024.