Qingming Festival (Tomb-sweeping Day)

Qingming Festival
Qingming Festival of 2020 falls on April 4. People sweep ancestors’ tombs on the day. The holiday from April 4 to 6, 2020 is also a great time for spring outing.

Qingming Festival (also known as Pure Brightness Festival or Tomb-sweeping Day), which falls on either April 4th or 5th of the gregorian calendar, is one of the Chinese Twenty-four Solar Terms. From that date temperatures begin to rise and rainfall increases, indicating that it is the crucial time for plowing and sowing in the spring. The festival therefore has a close relationship with agriculture. However, it is not only a seasonal symbol; it is also a day of paying respect to the dead, a spring outing, and other activities.


Year Date of Qingming Festival Holiday
2019 April 5 April 5 - 7
2020 April 4 April 4 - 6
2021 April 4 April 3 - 5
2022 April 5 April 3 - 5
2023 April 5 April 5
2024 April 4 April 4 - 6
More detailed 2019 / 2020 / 2021 China Public Holiday Calendar is available for you to know the schedule of all holidays in China and better make your travel plan.


It is said that the Qingming Festival was originally held to commemorate a loyal man living in the Spring and Autumn Period (770 - 476 BC), named Jie Zitui. Jie cut a piece of meat from his own leg in order to save his hungry lord who was forced to go into exile when the crown was in jeopardy. The lord came back to his position nineteen years later, and forgot Jie Zitui but later felt ashamed and decided to reward him. However, Jie had blocked himself up in a mountain with his mother. In order to find Jie, the lord ordered that the mountain should be set on fire. Later Jie was found dead with his mother. In order to commemorate Jie, the lord ordered that the day Jie died was Hanshi (Cold Food) Festival - the day that only cold food could be eaten.

Spring Outing during Qingming Festival
Spring Outing during Qingming Festival
The second year, when the lord went to the mountain to sacrifice to Jie, he found willows revived, so he gave instructions that the day after Hanshi Festival was to be Qingming Festival. Later, the two festivals were combined as one.

Traditional Customs

Qingming Festival is a time of many different activities, among which the main ones are tomb sweeping, taking a spring outing, and flying kites. Some other lost customs like wearing willow branches on the head and riding on swings have added infinite joy in past days. It is a combination of sadness and happiness.

 Tomb Sweeping
Tomb sweeping is regarded as the most important custom in the Qingming Festival from which the name of Tomb-sweeping day is got. Cleaning the tomb and paying respect to the dead person with offerings are the two important parts of remembering the past relatives. Weeds around the tomb are cleared away and fresh soil is added to show care of the dead. The dead person's favourite food and wine are taken to sacrifice to them, along with paper resembling money. This is all burned in the hope that the deceased are not lacking food and money. Kowtow before the tablets set up for the dead are made.

Today, with cremation taking over from burying, the custom has been extremely simplified in cities. Only flowers are presented to the dead relatives and revolutionary martyrs. No matter how respect is shown, good prayers for the deceased are expressed.

 Spring Outing
Not only is it a day for commemorating the dead, is it also a time for people to enjoy themselves. During March, everything in nature takes on a new look, as trees turn green, flowers blossom, and the sun shines brightly. It is a fine time to go out and to appreciate the beautiful scenes of nature. This custom can be traced back to the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907) and followed by each dynasty later till today. So visitors can be seen everywhere during the month of the festival.

Spring outings not only add joy to life but also promote a healthy body and mind.

 Flying Kites
Flying kites is an activity favored by many people during the Qingming Festival. Kites are not only flown during the day time but also in the evening. Little lanterns are tied to the kite or to the string that holds the kite. And when the kite is flying in the sky, the lanterns look like twinkling stars that add unique scenery to the sky during the night. What makes flying kites during this day special is that people cut the string while the kite is in the sky to let it fly free. It is said this brings good luck and that diseases can be eliminated by doing this.

All in all, the Qingming Festival is an occasion of unique characteristics, integrating sorrowful tears to the dead with the continuous laughter from the spring outing.
- Last modified on Apr. 25, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on Qingming Festival
Asked by Raphael from BRASIL | Apr. 05, 2019 15:15Reply
Does banks open in qingming holiday?
Answers (1)
Answered by Moria from USA | Apr. 07, 2019 18:57

Yes, they do.
Asked by kelly from SOUTHAFRICA | Apr. 02, 2019 11:27Reply
Do shops open during April Qingming Holiday?
Answers (1)
Answered by Anne from MALAYSIA | Apr. 02, 2019 18:10

Yes, they do.
Asked by Jay from CAMEROON | Mar. 27, 2019 01:16Reply
Have successfully booked visa appointment at the Chinese Embassy in Cameroon on the 5th of April
After reading this post i realized it’s a holiday. So I’m little confused, Is going to affect my appointment
Answers (1)
Answered by Nina from MALAYSIA | Mar. 27, 2019 18:14

Don't worry, if you have booked appointment successfully, there will be no problem.
Asked by Mabel from CANADA | Mar. 13, 2019 11:00Reply
Students will have to go to school on the weekend because of the Qing Ming Festival.
What day do they have to go to school? March 30/31?
Answers (2)
Answered by Jerry from CANADA | Mar. 13, 2019 19:25

No, they don't need to go to school on weekends.
Answered by Ning Jiahao from CHINA | Mar. 15, 2019 18:46

Well, sometimes. For example, sometimes Tomb Sweeping Festival is next Tuesday, but Tomb Sweeping Festival and weekend have only three days off, so we have to go to school this Saturday for an extra day to adjust the date. Can you understand me by saying so?
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