Celebrated two weeks after the vernal equinox(24节气之一的春分), Tomb Sweeping Day is one of the few traditional Chinese holidays that follows the solar calendar（solar calendar，意为农历、阴历）--typically falling on April 4, 5, or 6. Its Chinese name "Qing Ming" literally means "Clear Brightness," hinting at its importance as a celebration of Spring. Similar to the spring festivals of other cultures, Tomb Sweeping Day celebrates the rebirth of nature, while marking the beginning of the planting season and other outdoor activities.
Qing Ming Jie in Ancient Times
In ancient times, people celebrated Qing Ming Jie with dancing, singing, picnics, and kite flying. Colored boiled eggs（原来古代中国的清明节和西方复活节一样有彩蛋……小编只能感叹历史惊人的相似了……） would be broken to symbolize the opening of life. In the capital, the Emperor would plant trees on the palace grounds to celebrate the renewing nature of spring. In the villages, young men and women would court each other.
The Tomb Sweeping Day as Celebrated Today
With the passing of time, this celebration of life became a day to the honor past ancestors. Following folk religion(folk religion，民间习俗、信仰), the Chinese believed that the spirits of deceased ancestors looked after the family. Sacrifices of food and spirit money could keep them happy, and the family would prosper through good harvests and more children.
Today, Chinese visit their family graves to tend to any underbrush that has grown. Weeds are pulled, and dirt swept away, and the family will set out offerings of food and spirit money(注意纸钱的官方说法啊：spirit money). Unlike the sacrifices at a family's home altar, the offerings at the tomb usually consist of dry, bland food. One theory is that since any number of ghosts rome around a grave area, the less appealing food will be consumed by the ancestors, and not be plundered by strangers.
Honoring ancestors begins with proper positioning of a gravesite and coffin. Experts in feng shui, or geomancy, determine the quality of land by the surrounding aspects of streams, rivers, trees, hills, and so forth. An area that faces south, with groves of pine trees creates the best flow of cosmic energy required to keep ancestors happy. Unfortunately, nowadays, with China's burgeoning population, public cemetaries have quickly surplanted private gravesites. Family elders will visit the gravesite at least once a year to tend to the tombs.
While bland food is placed by the tombs on Qing Ming Jie, the Chinese regularly provide scrumptious offerings to their ancestors at altar tables in their homes. The food usually consists of chicken, eggs, or other dishes a deceased ancestor was fond of. Accompanied by rice, the dishes and eating utensils are carefully arranged so as to bring good luck. Sometimes, a family will put burning incense with the offering so as to expedite the transfer of nutritious elements to the ancestors. In some parts of China, the food is then eaten by the entire family.
Besides the traditions of honoring the dead, people also often fly kits on Tomb Sweeping Day. Kites can come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and colors. Designs could include frogs, dragonflies, butterflies, crabs, bats, and storks.
Ching Ming Festival/Grave-Sweeping Day 清明节
Cold Food Festival 寒食节
day of sacrifice 祭祀节日
offer sacrifices to ancestors 祭祖/上供
mourning ceremony 哀悼仪式
hell note/joss paper 纸钱
funeral supplies/products 殡葬用品
funeral services 殡葬服务业
burn incense 焚香
tomb sweeper 扫墓的人
kite flying 放风筝
spring outing 踏青
god's lantern 神灯
memorial tablet 纪念碑
willow branches inserted on each gate 门旁插柳
online funeral 网上葬礼