Yesterday, went to Hongfa Temple for Qingming, or grave sweeping day. The traditional day to celebrate was the 15th day from the Spring Equinox, which usually falls around April 4, 5, or 6. Ever curious, I asked friends why a traditional Chinese holiday was celebrated according to the solar calendar. It turns out their were two explanations. First, Qingming was a lunar festival, usually celebrated on the third day of the third month. Second, Qingming was one of the 24 solar periods (二十四节气), when people came out to see the sun after winter. It could have been instituted as a shifting day holiday like the Spring or Mid-Autumn Festivals. Why it was not, I still don’t know. I do know, however, that when the Mainland reinstated Qingming as a public holiday in 2008, it was immediately associated with venerating national heroes and martyrs. Pictures from Hongfa Temple, the first temple built in China in the Post-Mao era. Yes, Reform-era public support for religious practice was also a Shenzhen “first”.

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