Find out what the qing ming festival is all about, when is it and what special food will be served.
Wondering why there are so many cars on the highway around the 5th of April in Malaysia? It’s because lots of Chinese people are visiting the graves of their ancestors during Tomb-Sweeping day of "qing ming". It is celebrated each year on the 15th day after the spring equinox, and the equinox happens when the day and night have equal lengths. In other words 15 days after the exact beginning of spring i.e. on the 4th, 5th or 6th of April.
Although it is acceptable to visit the ancestral graves in the 10 days before and after the actual day, do expect a traffic jam on the highways that day because Chinese tradition depicts that Chinese faithful visit cemeteries to pay their respects to their ancestors.
The Chinese ancestors look forward to Qing Ming as they want to see their children and grandchildren making an effort to visit them. They may not be expecting a feast but do appreciate offerings. The ancestors have brought their family to Malaysia, raised their Malaysian born children and grandchildren for a good many years, so in mutual respect they will be visited once a year.
The Chinese ancestors could not take their material possessions to the after-world. That is why we have to provide them with paper gifts and "hell" notes. Since food plays an important role in Chinese festivals, special paper qing ming festival food can be bought and offered to the ancestors:
Shown in the picture: some grave goods you can offer to your ancestors: a bottle of hard liquor, a beer, cigarettes, food … Not only paper food can be bought, you could even buy a paper microwave.
Unlike during Chinese New Year, there isn’t any special food during qing ming in Malaysia. However in mainland China, there will be green dumplings prepared with glutinous rice and barley grass: the latter being only eatable in early spring, hence an ideal ingredient during the qing ming festival.