Article Info

published: 2/3/05
updated: 12/16/13

Qing Ming Jie (Tomb Sweeping Day)




What is Tomb Sweeping?

Tomb Sweeping Day, Ching Ming Festival
Offerings for Tomb Sweeping Day in China.
Photo: Benjamin Chan.

Qing Ming Jie or Ching Ming Festival ("Pure Brightness Festival") is a traditional Chinese holiday celebrated on the 106th day after the winter solstice, which occurs on April 4 or April 5 of the Gregorian calendar. It marks the middle of spring and is a sacred day of the dead.

The holiday is also known by a number of other names in the English language, including:

  • All Souls Day
  • Clear Brightness Festival
  • Festival for Tending Graves
  • Grave Sweeping Day
  • Tomb Sweeping Day




For the Chinese, Tomb Sweeping Day is primarily a festival for remembering and honoring ones' ancestors.

Burning paper gifts for the departed

Young and old pray before the ancestors, sweep the tombs and offer food and libation to the ancestors. The rites are very important to most Chinese and especially farmers. Many believe that if the ancestors' spirits are not properly cared for, they will become hungry ghosts that can cause trouble for the living.

Nowadays, the festival is also a patriotic day. The April Fifth Movement and the Tiananmen incident were major events involving Qing Ming Jie that took place in the history of the People's Republic of China. When Premier Zhou Enlai passed away in 1976, thousands visited him during the festival to pay respect. In the Republic of China, April 5th conincides with the passing of Chiang Kai-shek and the date is designated as a national holiday.