Apr 3, 2012

Qingming Festival In Southeast Asia

Qingming Festival Image

via: kevinykchan

Thousands will crowd temples, cemeteries and grave sites to celebrate this year’s Qingming Festival. The festival, also known as the Pure Brightness Festival, Clear Bright Festival, Ancestors Day, or Tomb Sweeping Day, lands of Wednesday April 4th this year.

This Chinese festival was initially important for its solar significance, as the day lands on the first day of the fifth solar term of the year. The occasion marks the beginning of spring, but these days, a greater focus of the Qingming Festival has been on honoring one’s ancestors.

Not A National Holiday In Southeast Asia

Qingming Festival is not a nationally recognized holiday in any country outside of China. However, large Chinese communities in Singapore and Malaysia take the festival very seriously. Southeast Asians of Chinese descent typically display a stronger focus on the family aspect of the festival than do mainland Chinese.

Qingming Festival

via: thenamelessbear

The Meaning of Qingming

For many, the festival is about upholding tradition, reminiscing on the past and remembering one’s ancestors. For some, it’s about a hearty meal spent with extended family, about passing a “clan’s” story down the line, and about springing forward into a new season.

A typical family celebration involves the sweeping and cleaning of grave sites. Tombstones are decorated with flowers, and often burnt offerings such as food and paper gifts are made for the deceased. Some families hold traditional picnic feasts at the cemetery, in more recent years many families hold feasts at off-site locations. Many families celebrate outdoors with singing, dancing, kite-flying, and many other outdoor activities.

Qingming Festival Photo

via: thenamelessbear

A Traffic Jam At The Cemetery?

Public park and street traffic typically become slightly heavier around the Qingming Festival. In Southeast Asia, many families start visiting cemeteries very early in the morning. A rush of cars, bikes, and pedestrians on foot can cause traffic jams in some cities as ethnic Chinese attempt to reach temples, cemeteries, and graveyards.

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