Time is going very fast, isn’t it? It feels like the roaring cold winter wind was just here few days ago, but now you can already see the blooming flowers. Now, it is time for us to introduce you the next solar term – 清明 (Qīngmíng in Pinyin), or Pure Brightness in the English translation.
Different from other solar terms, one of the traditional Chinese festivals falls on the same time period –“Qingming Festival” (or Tomb-Sweeping Day, yes the name of the festival is the same with the solar term). The first day of the Pure Brightness solar term is this Tuesday, on 5th of April in 2022.
As each solar term has 3 pentads, here are the ones from Pure Brightness:
First pentad: 桐始华 (Tóng shǐ huá in pinyin), ‘The paulownia begins to bloom’.
Second pentad: 田鼠化为鴽 (Tiánshǔ huà wéi rú in pinyin), ‘Voles transform into quails’.
Last pentad: 虹始见 (Hóng shǐ xiàn in pinyin), ‘Rainbows begin to appear’.
As we mentioned that Qingming Festival happens during Pure Brightness, it is a special time for the Chinese people. In the ancient time, a festival called Hanshi Day (when people are not allowed to use fire and can only eat cold food) was celebrated after 105 days of the previous Winter Solstice, which was 2 days after the Qingming festival. But after the calendar reform in the early Qing Dynasty initiated by German missionary, priest and scholar, Johann Adam Schall von Bell, the date was set one day after Qingming Festival. With time pass by, these two festivals are gradually celebrated together.
Nowadays, the prohibition of using fire is not strict any more, but other traditions are still kept by the Chinese people. First and most important, people will go to the graveyard to sweep their ancesters’ tombs, offer flowers, food, paper money and other sacrifice to them. Now you would think Qingming is a rough and sad time as people mourn for their lost loved ones, yes it is, but it is also the time that people start to go out, enjoy the nice spring weather and appreaciating the hope that spring brings to nature and people.
Of course, a festival without its signature food is not a real festival. On the first day (and in some regions – for the three following days) of Qingming solar term, the Chinese have to eat cold food (traditions from Hanshi Day). The other days, it is possible to eat anything, but there are several “favorites” which are especially popular: sweet green rice balls, peach blossom porridge, crispy Qingming cakes, Qingming snails, and eggs. These foods are usually cooked one or two days before the festival date.
Green rice balls, 青团 (or qīngtuán in Pinyin) are made of a mixture of glutinous rice powder and green vegetable juice, and stuffed with sweetened bean paste.
Qingming cakes are called 撒子 (sāzi in pinyin) or 寒具 (hánjù in pinyin). It is a kind of crispy fried food, made of wheat flour or glutinous rice flour, eggs, sesame, onion, salt, and other ingredients.
Peach blossom porridge is a kind of porridge cooked with fresh peach blossoms and rice.
This year, to mourn the people who lost their lives in the Covid-19 epidemic, the government of PRC has announced that on April 4th, which is tomorrow, nationalwide mourning activities will take place. From 10 o’clock, all the cars, ships and trains will honk for three minutes, same with the air-defense siren. All people should mourn in silence during the time too. Tomb sweeping in the graveyard is not allowed this year, instead, people can get help from the service providers to do it for them.
Here, we would like to say THANK YOU to EVERYONE who contributed during the epidemic, and we are sincerely sorry for those who lost their loved ones. We believe, with worldwide solidarity, there is no problem we cannot solve, there is no difficulty we cannot overcome. Just like after winter, the spring comes.
This Post Has One Comment
Pingback: 24 Solar terms - Introduction | Journeys & Jaunts