Tomb Sweeping Festival — known in Chinese as Qingming Jie (清明节) — is a holiday to commemorate the dead, traditionally celebrated each year on the fifteenth day after the spring solstice. Since 2008, it has been a nationwide public holiday in mainland China held annually around April 4th, because the number ‘four’ is a homophone for the word’death’ in Chinese and double numbers — in this case the fourth day of the fourth month — are considered auspicious.
Despite only recently being recognized officially, the Tomb Sweeping Festival is thousands of years old. The festival is a chance for families to get together and pay homage to loved ones who have passed away in the previous year. This year, China will observe the festival with a three-day holiday from April 3rd to the 5th, with the actual date falling on the fifth.
The main task during Tomb Sweeping Festival is to pay respect to the dead. Families head to wherever their ancestors are buried to ‘tidy up’ the rubbish and dirt around graves and cut back the plants around the graves if they are overgrown. Once finished, flowers, both real and fake, are often placed around the grave to spruce it up.
Items such as money, clothes and mansions made of paper are burnt to give dead family members what they want in the afterlife. It is a very beautiful and solemn occasion.