The Qingming Festival is celebrated in China on the 15th day of the Spring Equinox (this year it will be held on April 5th). Its origins date back to more than 2,500 years ago and different stories and names are related to it; however, this historical festival is especially dedicated to the commemoration of the dead. The tradition of Qingming Festival requires Chinese people to pay respect to their ancestors by visiting their graves, cleaning them and bringing food and wine.
What is the most famous legend to which Qingming Festival has originated from?
This festivity derives from “Hanshi Day”, which in the Chinese language means “the day with cold food only”, a holiday long ago established to remember the loyalty of Jie Zitui.
Legend has it that Jie Zitui was so loyal to his lord, Duke Wen, that when the latter was exiled while the crown was in jeopardy, he amputated his own leg in order to feed his hungry lord.
Duke Wen promised he would reward him when he regained power, however, after 19 years, he had subsequently forgotten and when the memory of his promise finally came back to his mind, Jie Zitui had already moved to the forest, where he was living with his mother. Duke Wen ‘s men were ordered to search for him but weren’t able to find him; following his officials’ suggestion, Duke Wen let them set the forest on fire in order for Jie Zitui to come out. Unfortunately, Duke Wen could never reward him, because both Jie Zitui and his mother tragically died in the blaze.
In order to mark Jie Zitui’s loyalty, Duke Wen ordered not to use fire for three days; due to these circumstances, only cold food could be eaten, therefore the definition of Hanshi Day as the day of only cold food.
How is it that Hanshi Day turned out to represent Qingming Festival’s origin?
One year later, Duke Wen came back to the forest and found willow trees which had grown from the blaze’s ashes.
Duke Wen subsequently established the day after the Hanshi Day as Qingming Festival, in order to commemorate all the people who passed away and from that day onwards the two festivities mixed together until nowadays, when Chinese people only celebrate Qingming Festival.
DP Group team hopes that tomorrow will be an occasion for all families to reunite and celebrate the memory of their ancestors.