Celebrating Ancestors and Spring:清明节 (Qīngmíng Jié) Traditions in Chaoshan

This article explores the unique清明节 (Qīngmíng Jié), or清明节 (Clear Ming Festival), traditions practiced by the Chaoshan people of China (estimated reading time: 6 minutes).

Visiting Ancestral Homes: The “Guà Zhǐ” (挂纸) Ceremony

清明节 (Qīngmíng Jié) is a time for honoring ancestors. In Chaoshan, this tradition is called “Guà Zhǐ” (挂纸), which literally translates to “hanging paper.” Unlike other regions that visit graves during winter solstice, Chaoshan people prioritize the spring season for “Guà Zhǐ” (挂纸). Families travel to ancestral tombs to clean the area, make repairs, and offer prayers. Vibrant yellow and white paper strips are hung on the tombstones, symbolizing connection and respect for past generations. This custom is particularly important for those who have recently passed, with families observing “Guà Zhǐ” (挂纸) for the first three years after a loss.

Embracing Spring: From Tomb Sweeping to “Tā Qīng” (踏青)

清明节 (Qīngmíng Jié) coincides with the arrival of spring. Following the solemn “Guà Zhǐ” (挂纸) ceremony, Chaoshan people celebrate the season’s beauty with “Tā Qīng” (踏青), which translates to “treading on green.” Families and friends head outdoors for picnics and leisurely walks amidst the blossoming flowers and vibrant greenery. This tradition echoes the festival’s name,清明节 (Qīngmíng Jié), which itself means “clear and bright,” reflecting the renewed life and clarity associated with spring.

Culinary Delights: “Dēng Pǔzǐ Guǒ” (蒸朴籽粿) and “Shí Bó Bǐng” (食薄饼)

Food plays a significant role in Chaoshan’s清明节 (Qīngmíng Jié) traditions. “Dēng Pǔzǐ Guǒ” (蒸朴籽粿) are steamed rice cakes with a unique grainy texture, often filled with sweet or savory ingredients. Another popular dish is “Shí Bó Bǐng” (食薄饼), a thin crepe enjoyed with savory fillings like roasted duck, pickled vegetables, and fresh herbs. These culinary delights add a festive touch to family gatherings and celebrations during清明节 (Qīngmíng Jié).

In conclusion,清明节 (Qīngmíng Jié) for the Chaoshan people is a time for honoring ancestors, embracing spring’s beauty, and indulging in delicious treats. These traditions strengthen family bonds and cultural identity, ensuring that age-old customs are passed down through generations.

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