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China, Culture, Travel

Hitting the road for Qing Ming festival


Tue is a Qing-Ming tomb sweeping holiday. The story behind is quite bloody, as many other Chinese epics. Anyway, Monday traded places with Saturday, and so we’ll have a 3-day holiday.

My friends and I are going to see some of the ancient places – Shao Lin monastery (yes, that one, where Kung Foo started) and Longmen grottoes. It’s about 5 hours by train from Beijing. Exciting!

On an unrelated note, here’s a story behind this holiday, shamelessly taken from Wikipedia. My colleagues told me the same thing over lunch, so it’s at least somewhat trustworthy:

The festival originated from Hanshi Day (, literally, Day with cold food only), a memorial day for Jie Zitui (, or Jie Zhitui, ). Jie Zitui died in 636 BC in the Spring and Autumn Period. He was one of many followers of Duke Wen of Jin before he became a duke. Once, during Wen’s 19 years of exile, they had no food and Jie prepared some meat soup for Wen. Wen enjoyed it a lot and wondered where Jie had obtained the soup. It turned out Jie had cut a piece of meat from his own thigh to make the soup. Wen was so moved he promised to reward him one day. However, Jie was not the type of person who sought rewards. Instead, he just wanted to help Wen to return to Jin to become king. Once Wen became duke, Jie resigned and stayed away from him. Duke Wen rewarded the people who helped him in the decades, but for some reason he forgot to reward Jie, who by then had moved into the forest with his mother. Duke Wen went to the forest, but could not find Jie. Heeding suggestions from his officials, Duke Wen ordered men to set the forest on fire to force out Jie. However, Jie died in the fire. Feeling remorseful, Duke Wen ordered three days without fire to honour Jie’s memory. The county where Jie died is still called Jiexiu (介休, literally “the place Jie rests forever”).

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