Qingming Festival


Qingming Festival
(Qingmingjie)
Qingming is usually described as a festival of the dead, which takes place fifteen days after the spring equinox. Among the Hakka, however, this festival can last as long as a month, because tombs are scattered across the surrounding hills and must be swept according to generational order.
For the first sacrificial visit, to the tomb of the founding ancestor (kaiji zu), each segment of the lineage must send representatives; as the sweeping comes ever closer to the present generation, successive visits concern ever smaller groups. Each time, after the grasses have been cleared from the tomb and the offerings set out, a cock is killed and its blood poured over ‘sacrificial money’, which is then placed according to a fixed pattern on the outer, horseshoe-shaped ‘rim’ of the tomb. For this reason, Qingming is more popularly referred to by its characteristic act, that of ‘hanging paper money [on the tomb]’ (guazhi). This stretched-out manner of celebrating Qingming means that it is a privileged occasion for the exhibition of lineage segmentation, as well as for learning lineage history, for in many areas the young boys are given a few coins every time they succeed in recognizing a tomb and telling the inherited tales of its inhabitant.
JOHN LAGERWEY

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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