Today, April 4th, 2017, is Ching Ming Day ( 清明節 ) in Hong Kong. It is also known as Qingming Jie ( 清明节 ) or Tomb Sweeping Day ( 扫坟节 ), though its literal translation is the Pure Brightness Festival.
It is a day to pay respects to your ancestors. On Ching Ming, family will visit the resting places of their relatives and pay respects. They will sweep away dust and debris and remove dried flowers. Perhaps they will bringing a fresh new wreath and maybe even offer food, wine, chopsticks, or other ceremonial remembrances. They may also picnic, sing, dance, and fly kites, as the day also celebrates spring and life.
The current structure of the holiday is credited to Emperor Xuanzong, who felt the wealthy of his day held too many expensive and elaborate ceremonies honoring their ancestors, often leaving far too many items at gravesites and tombs. In 732 AD, he proposed such celebrations take place only once a year, on the Pure Brightness Festival – Qingming.
In the martial arts, we respect the ancestors of the arts and sciences we practice. We respect our passed instructors as well as the living ones.
The term Tomb Sweeping Day may have a telling quality. It is important to respect those who came before us. However, having respect for them does not mean we should allow those memories or ideas to collect dust and debris. The Pure Brightness Festival is a celebration of spring as well, new life and new ideas. At times, we should sweep away the dirt and chaff from the thoughts of our predecessors. Revere them for their accomplishments, acknowledge what they put forward that is still valid, but let go of the ideas and practices that no longer apply.
Celebrate Tomb Sweeping Day.