Easter and the Qingming Festival

Easter+and+the+Qingming+Festival

Sara Lao

Easter and the Qingming Festival

April 2, 2021

 

Easter

 

April 4th is Easter Day. Easter is a Christian holiday that celebrates the belief that Jesus Christ rose from the dead 3 days after he was put to death by the Romans. Most Christian celebrate Easter at churches with music, candlelight, flowers, food, and the ringing of church bells. Food is a major part of the celebration; there are usually family get-togethers (How is Easter Celebrated?).  Lamb is a traditional food that is eaten on Easter. After Halloween, Easter is the second-best candy-seller in the world. Chocolate eggs are the most popular Easter sweet treat. Eggs represented the symbol of new life and Jesus’ resurrection (Easter Symbols and Traditions). There are some other egg-shaped candy and jelly beans that started to relate to Easter in the 1930s.“White Easter Lilies symbolize the purity of Christ to Christians and are common decorations in churches and homes around the Easter holiday,” and “the Easter bunny has become a prominent symbol of Christianity’s most important holiday,” says Easter Symbols and Traditions.

 

 These are two questions I asked some CPM students about Easter.

  • Do you celebrate Easter? If yes, what do you do on Easter? (1 -3 sentences)
  • For you, what is the meaning of Easter? (1-3 sentences)

 

“I and my family celebrate Easter. As orthodox the tradition would be to eat meals with our relatives but right for safety reasons, we will only eat in our household. The meaning of Easter for me is being able to remember, celebrate and reunite with each other. Easter started as a Christian holiday to remember the resurrection of Christ but the meaning with the ages changed and what we right now celebrate as Easter isn’t what the first ones did. Right now what for me is the meaning of Easter is having a good time with other people, spending that day with someone and celebrating what you think is right.” – Nathan Ghebru

 

“On Easter, we go to church then go up to my grandma’s house. All of my cousins and aunts, and uncles meet up there and my grandma hides easter baskets around her house. Then we have a big dinner all together. For me, Easter is a time where I see my family that I don’t see every day and spend time with them.” – Obi Sindora

 

“I do celebrate Easter. This year we’re making an Easter treat, I get to making vegan chocolate muffins! We also do an egg hunt for my little sister with some plastic eggs and fill them with candy; this year I might get to do the hiding. The meaning of Easter for me is the anniversary of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. On a normal year, I would be going to church for the service on Easter morning. My family sees it as the day to celebrate and thank Jesus for laying down his life for us.” – Breanna Epp

 

Qingming Festival 清明节

 

The Qingming Festival 清明节 is celebrated on April 4th as well, but in China, it lasts from April 3rd to the 5th. This festival can also be called Tomb Sweeping Day or it’s English translation “Pure Brightness”. The festival is meant for most Chinese to “go and sweep tombs and commemorate their ancestors,” stated Ruby Zhao in Qingming Festival 2021, Tomb Sweeping Day, Ching Ming. The meaning of the sweeping is to show respect to ancestors. “The Qingming Festival started in the Zhou Dynasty (1046–221 BC), and has a history of over 2,500 years,” says Ruby Zhao. The Qingming Festival is a combination of Tomb Sweeping Day and Chinese Cold Food Day. Chinese Cold Food Day 寒食节 goes back to Tang Dynasty (618-907). Chinese Cold Food Day was when people didn’t use fire to heat food, instead, they just ate cold food. “Sweet green rice balls are a kind of popular cold dish made with rice flour,” says Dang Xiao Fei in Hanshi Festival, Born of a Heartbreaking Tale of Loyalty. But, people don’t celebrate this holiday alone anymore because it has been mixed into the Qingming Festival. The two festival’s origin is related to Mianshan, a mountain close to Pingyao Ancient Town. This mountain’s other name was Jieshan, and it was named after Jie Zitui. And this is where the story begins… There was a young defender, Duke Wen of Jin, and he was an exiled prince, Prince Chong’er. Jie Zitui served Prince Chong’er. During 655 BC, the prince was about to starve to death, but “Jie Zitui secretly cut a piece of flesh from his thigh and cooked it into a meat soup, which saved the prince. Chong’er wondered where Jie had obtained the soup (Ruby Zhao).” Prince Chong’er had later found out about Jie’s good deed and promised him a reward. 

 

The prince had gone back to his kingdom and took power as Duke Wen of Jin, 19 years later in 639 BC. Duke Wen of Jin was “one of the five hegemons of the Spring and Autumn Period from 770 BC to 476 BC (Ruby Zhao)”. The duke had rewarded and honored all of his followers but forgot about Jie Zitui. Duke Wen was ashamed of himself after others reminded him of Jie Zitui’s good deed. The duke soon went to look for Jie to give him a title, but Jie went into hiding with his aged mother in a close-by mountain because he didn’t want a reward. So, Duke Wen set fire to the mountain to force him out of hiding, but little did he know both his mother and Jie Zitui had died. To honor Jie, the duke buried them with respect and held a memorial ceremony for the tomb, and then Duke Wen made an order to his subjects to never light fire on that day. “He was so moved that he swept the tomb and declared the festival as a “Cold Food Festival” (part of the Qingming Festival nowadays). Duke Wen formed an honest, diligent, pragmatic, and efficient government during his reign, and so his Qingming cold food tradition lived on with his legend (Ruby Zhao).” And that is the end of the story.