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Qingming Festival in Taizhou
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At the Qingming Festival, every household in Taizhou makes Jingtuan (salty) and Jingbing (sweet) as cold food. Jing is a kind of wild grass like artemisia, with delicate fragrance and yellow little flower around the Qingming Festival. In Taizhou, after being picked up, Jing will be boiled for a while and then mashed, mixed with glutinous rice and wheat flour, and finally made into dumpling and pastry named as Jingtuan and Jingbing respectively. Jingtuan is cooked with saute diced tofu, bamboo shoots, pork, gluten, radish stuffing; while Jingbing is cooked with brown sugar and sweetened bean paste.

 

Tomb-sweeping is also called as “offering sacrifice to the tomb” or “visiting the grave”, which is not done in an absolutely fixed day. It often occurs around the Qingming Festival, generally three days before it and four days after it. According to Zhejiang Annals -- Customs and Taizhou Annals, on that very day, natives in Taizhou County, rich or poor, would offer sacrifice at their ancestor's grave and also light incense and spiritual money, and add soil to the grave known as “adding grave soil”. According to old customs, the folk inserted bamboo and hung spiritual money in front of the grave, or put the spiritual money on the cemetery or on the back of the tombstone, called as “money to cover the tomb”. Before leaving, they hung colorful banners as the proof that the grave had been taken care of by the descendants.

 

Wenling and Yuhuan natives originated from the south of Fujian Province would distribute Jingtuan and money to children living next to the grave, called as “distribution of grave money”. This manner remained at the beginning of the liberation, but has lost its popularity recently.

 

Upon the establishment of the new China, it became a fresh fashion to sweep the martyrs’ grave at the Qingming Festival. On that day, all institutions, organizations, schools and mass groups sweep the martyrs’ park in succession with wreaths and flowers, recalling the martyrs and expressing their grief.

 

As a solar term, the Qingming Festival only lasts one day; while the Cold Food Festival generally lasts three days. Folk activities for the Qingming Festival may be extended to the Duanwu Festival or Spring Flower Harvest Festival, as a saying goes “The Qingming Festival Lasts till the Duanwu Festival”, or “The Qingming Festival Lasts till the wheat harvest”. There are two explanations for this. The first is that in the past, the Qingming Festival came across a lean harvest, so the people were too poor to offer sacrifice until the spring wheat harvest. The second one has something to do with Qi Jiguang’s defense against Japanese invasion. It is said that men in some village at that time followed Qi’s troop and some of them asked to return home at the Qingming Festival. Leaders of the troop, however, in order not to relax defense at the festival, allowed them to go home in turn and sweep their ancestors’ grave with their family after the festival. Thus, the village did not finish the activities for the Qingming Festival until the Duanwu Festival. In return, the defense against Japanese ended with a significant victory, so this custom passed on.

 

At the Qingming Festival, people in all counties of the city wear willow trigs as hairpins perhaps as “exorcism and spring outing”. It is believed to be good for the family’s health and longevity. There goes a ballad like this “Wear no willow trigs or flowers at the Qingming Festival, bear no uncles or aunts in the afterlife”. Another one goes like this “Wear wheat, live up to the age of 100; wear flowers, live to 108; wear flowers and willow trigs, live to 800”.

 

In Tiantai and Linhai, people in every household eat sea margarya on that day. It is said that it helps clear eyes, so the little margarya is also called “eye-clearing margarya”. Therefore, dealers in Sanmen, Ninghai and other neighboring counties often trade sea margarya along a long way to Tiantai and Linhai.



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