Dos and Don’ts of Qing Ming Festival Simple Foreigner-Friendly Guide

Tomorrow, the 5th of April 2019,is a holiday! This is of course great news, but what do you know about the Chinese “Qing Ming Festival”?

Let’s try to compare Qing Ming Festival celebrated in China and some other Asian countries vs All Souls’ Day celebrated in many Western countries, we think you will find more similarities that you’d expect!

Both celebrations are related to the remembrance of the deceased and pay respect to them. While in China it is considered a National Holiday, in Western countries it is considered a religious festival and therefore you won’t get the day off for it.

Despite the many similarities between the two Festivals, they are celebrated in two different periods of time, in China, during Spring time (the 15th day after the Spring Equinox), whereas in Western countries it is celebrated during Autumn, on November 2nd.

If you think you know everything about the two festivals read the following points to examine your actual knowledge.

1-      During Qing Ming Festival, also called “Tomb Sweeping Festival” Chinese people go to their ancestors’ tomb to clean & sweep, bringing various different types of food, fruit and paper made items, anything they think their ancestors would appreciate in the afterlife.

While the food, fruits and paper money are a common custom of the festival, other paper made items have gradually changed accordingly to our daily habits, so don’t be surprised if you see TV flat screens showing your favorite TV show, Iphone, Ipad, clothes, or various kinds of alcohol or Mahjong boards made of paper! They are definitely having a good time over there in the afterlife!


2-      During All Soul’s Day Western people pray for the dead who are in purgatory (the state of the afterlife where some people wait for atonement) and bring flowers to them. Every country has different customs, but in Italy, people bring food, candles, bread or lamps to help these wandering souls find the path to Heaven. 


3-      For the living, instead, there are some specialties you can enjoy during Qing Ming Festival such as:  青团 (qintuan). Have you not yet tried the soft  green balls made of sticky rice that you see everywhere during this period?


4-      During All Soul’s in Italy you will find some hilariously named cookies such as Ossi da morti (dead bones) or Pan dei morti (bread of the dead) frutta di Martorana (Martorana’s Fruit) made of marzipan but with the shape of many kinds of fruits.

Now that we know all of the dos, let’s see some of the don’ts of Qing Ming Festival:

Chinese tradition has a lot of different superstitions, therefore it is better to know and observe particular aspects of these customs in order to keep a good relationship with your Chinese friends, so here’s some advice for you:

Don’t go to visit friends or distant relatives during the holidays, Qing Ming Festival is a private family celebration, you don’t want to crash it!

Don’t stay out too late.

Don’t take pictures at the cemetery, even the most hard-core selfie addict must control oneself during this festival.

Now that Qing Ming Festival has no more secrets for you, enjoy your free day!