Is Qingming the Chinese Easter?

Bustling Beijing
5 min readMar 30, 2021

While the Lunar New Year Festival is marking the beginning of a new year, the Qingming aka Spring Festival marks the beginning of a new growth cycle in nature. The resurrection of new life from death!

Easter is just one of the festivals that celebrate the beginning of spring and of planting season. It is by far not the only festival in the long row of festivals that human civilizations have developed over millennia to celebrate the start of something new.

All members of Christian influenced societies know Easter. Jesus is being crucified and rises from death. However, you might interpret that, as metaphor or literal truth, it conveys deep symbolic meaning: the resurrection of life after the death of winter.

How about speculating, that Chinese culture has its own Easter, a festival of resurrection, celebrating the rebirth of nature: Qingming.

China´s Easter Festival

The Qingming Festival has its roots in millennia old celebrations of spring, the beginning of planting season, the remembrance of the dead. The ancestor cult, being an important part of Chinese spirituality, has its place in Chinese culture to this day. And why not! Be an officially atheist nation all you want. Everyone has parents and grandparents and in the long run, no ideology can eliminate the emotional connection to your forebears.

On this day, Chinese remember their ancestors and ritually swipe their graves. The extent of this ritual depends on how religious you are but also how traditional you think. The importance of the gesture might become obvious when you hear the other name of Qingming Festival — Tomb Sweeping Day (清明节).

Other customs include kite flying (sometimes during the night), so that little lights connected to the kite can symbolize the stars and thus maybe the souls of the dead.

Another custom I find intriguing, is cutting willow tree branches to decorate entrances. This seems a freaky connection of non-connected cultures as it is customary in the Alpine region to use twigs of willow trees around Easter as well. Willows are seen as a magical tree by many Buddhists and are thought to be used by the goddess Guanyin (观音) to fend off evil.

--

--

Bustling Beijing

Long-term German Expat in China. PHD in History. Deep understanding of Chinese Culture. Commentate current Affairs and question the western Stereotype of China.