Tomb Sweeping Day is one of the most important holidays in China. The name in Chinese is Qingming Festival (清明节), meaning "Festival of Clear Brightness," which was traditionally the celebration of renewal of Spring - celebrated 15 days after the Spring equinox, on April 5th or 6th. However, from the English name, we get a clearer idea of the holiday's significance today - a day to remember and honor deceased ancestors by sweeping their graves.
The history of Tomb Sweeping Day dates back long ago and was originally just a celebration of the new life that comes in Spring. Around that time every year, the weather began changing from the cold of Winter to the warmth of Spring, so people would go out to dance, sing, have picnics and fly kites. The Emperor himself would call on the people to plant trees around the Imperial Palace to celebrate the new birth of life in Spring. It even became tradition to break open colorful boiled eggs as a symbol of the opening of life.
As time went by, Tomb Sweeping Day moved away from its origins as a day to celebrate the coming of Spring and became a day to honor deceased ancestors. In the eyes of Chinese people, the spirits of dead ancestors have the ability to bless their families from heaven, so they must kept happy with sacrifices of food and paper money. Family members also took to kneeling in front of their ancestors' graves to ask for prosperity and happiness for their families in the coming year.
In modern China, Tomb Sweeping Day is still widely observed and people have even begun to think of new ways to remember their ancestors. Younger Chinese have begun using the Internet to create memorial sites for their ancestors as a way to pay tribute, enjoying the convenience and eco-friendly alternative to tomb decoration. Some have even begun to use 3D technology to create virtual re-creations of their ancestors' tombs, which offer an almost life-like online mourning platform.
As China grows and modernizes, more and more Chinese live far from the homes of their ancestors, and innovations such as Internet memorials provide a convenient plaform to celebrate Tomb Sweeping Day for those who are far away from home.
The Chinese believe that no mater how people choose to worship their ancestors through different eras, Tomb Sweeping Day will remain an important annual celebration. Chinese people through all ages will continue to hope that loved ones rest in peace and will continue to show respect to them on this special holiday.