Sweeping Graves at Qingming Festival


Qingming Festival (traditionally April 4-6) or the day for mourning the dead sees Hangzhounese go to the outskirts of town to sweep their ancestors’ graves and to offer sacrifices there.

This custom has prevailed since the Song Dynasty. Arriving back at their homes after visiting  the outskirts where they have gathered willow twigs, local people will hang them at the doors of their homes. These twigs are called "bright eyes", which can discern evil spirits and keep them away. Nowadays, grave sweeping is normally followed by a spring outing.

After offering sacrifices at their ancestors graves, the family-loving Hangzhounese will carefully find a scenic spots in order to hold a family picnic. It is another custom for local people to eat Qingming tuanzi (dumplings). Made of rice and Chinese mug wort leaves, they are stuffed with sugar or sweetened bean paste. These kinds of green dumplings are not only served as one of the sacrificial offerings for the dead, but also  shared by family members after the sacrificial ceremony.

Source: New Greater Hangzhou: A New Guide by George Chen