Every year, on the 4th or 5th day of April (the first day of the 5th solar term), people celebrate Qing Ming Jie Day. A national holiday of China, this spring festival has many different names. Some call Ancestors’ Day; others refer it as Tomb Sweeping Day or Chinese Memorial Day. When translated, Qing Ming means “clear and bright.” Qing Ming Jie 2018 falls on April 5th. Qing Ming Jie History The celebration of this day surrounds an ancient Chinese legend. Qing Ming Jie day history tells the tale of a faithful servant named Jie Zitui who died in 636 BC and has been celebrated for thousands of years. Jie, who lived in the Shanxi province, followed his lord into exile. During a time of starvation, legend says that Jie cut off a piece of his own leg and served it to his lord.
Once his lord was freed from exile and regained power, Jie Zitui was forgotten. Moving into the mountains with his mother, Jie Zitui lived life as a hermit. Remembering his loyal servant and wanting to repay him for his kindness, the lord eventually returned and tried to coax Jie Zitui out of the mountains. When he wouldn’t come out, the lord came up with a plan. He started a fire in the forest, thinking that the flames would send Jie Zitui and his mother out of hiding. Unfortunately, his plot backfired and both Jie Zitui and his mother were killed in the fire.
Distraught by what had happened, the lord ordered all people of the region to put out the fires in their homes on the anniversary of his death.
In present times, people celebrate Qing Ming Jie in some ways. Two of the most common practice is sweeping the tombs of ancestors and eating cold dishes all day (no fires in honor of Jie Zitui. This cold food festival usually happens on the eve of Qing Ming.
Though this is a day of mourning, those who celebrate the festival also go on spring outings, fly kites, and wear willow branches in their hair (in honor of Jie Zitui), and sacrificing food and gifts to departed family members.Tea drinking is also a huge part of this holiday since tea harvesting takes place during this season as well. Qing Ming Jie Day and The Solar Terms As mentioned before, Qing Ming Jie Day is celebrated during the 5th solar term. A solar term, in general, is any of 24 points specific points found in East Asian lunisolar calendars. Each of these seasonal division points matches a specific astronomical event or natural occurrence. These solar were created by farmers in ancient China to guide the farming activities. Like the groundhog predicts weather and the coming of delaying of spring in the US, the Qing Ming Jie Day provides the Chinese with a folk prediction regarding harvest predictions for the upcoming seasons.
Though ancient traditions and ancestor-focused practices are still a major part of Qing Ming Jie history and celebrations, the holiday has taken on a life of it's on in regards to tea production (and consumption.) In Chinese tea culture, Qing Ming is the cutoff for some of the earliest and best quality springtime tea harvests. Teas that are harvested before April 5th of Qing Ming Jie 2018 are known as “Ming Qian” and are sometimes 4x as expensive than tea harvested at other times because of their superior quality.
Though the celebration date doesn’t vary much, the actual tea harvest days depend on how the weather cooperates. Thankfully, Qing Ming Jie 2018 weather conditions this year are favorable for tea growing and tea harvesting. In fact, growers in lower altitude tea growing areas began tea harvesting Ming Qian teas on March 21, 2018.
Because tea growers saw a mild start to the season and late spring coldness was avoided this year, tea yield will increase. But don’t expect a decrease in prices. In fact, you should probably expect the opposite on this Qing Ming Jie Day.
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