Qingming 2022… friends, old Beijing and the sprouts of a new harvest
Today is Qingming Festival (清明节) or Tomb-Sweeping Day, a national holiday for paying respects by visiting tombs or going to temples. The long festival weekend is also about going out with family or friends to enjoy the springtime.
Yesterday we enjoyed a wonderful day with friends out in Beijing's countryside, catching up after a long time with a nice barbecue together.
While Sunday we visited ancient Qianmen district in the heart of Beijing, south to Tiananmen square. It has been years since I had been in Qianmen, the last time in summer 2017 with a business partner from the USA. The district was packed with foreign and domestic tourists at that time.
Qianmen was a cozy gathering this time with mostly people from Beijing wandering around and we visited Beijing's oldest tea shop and enjoyed the local food; tripe soup and fried snacks with fermented "stinky" tofu and garlic.
Qingming falls on the first day of the fifth solar term of the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar. The festival has been practiced by Chinese people for more than 2500 years since the era of the ‘Spring and Autumn Period’ (770 to 476 BC). In today’s China it has been a national holiday since 2008.
Driving to the family village in Beijing’s countryside this morning, we came across decorated old graves along the country roads sided with spring flowers. Real spring has started and our vegetable garden is sprouting for a new harvest season.
As with any festival, Qingming around China has many regional traditions and foods such as Qingtuan green rice balls (glutinous rice with mugwort or wormwood herb), Sanzi fried dough twists or Zitui steamed buns, shaped in animals or flowers. And pre-Qingming green tea, the youngest tea sprouts of the harvest are highly awarded all over the country.