Worshipping Ancestors and Herbal Health
Last Friday was the Qingming Festival (清明節) in China, also called Tomb Sweeping Festival. Chinese families worship their ancestors on this day. The 2500-year old festival's traditional food is Qīngtuán (青团); green dumplings made from glutinous rice mixed with mugwort leaves (giving the green color) with delicious fillings such as red bean paste, salted egg yolk, meat or hawthorn.
Mugwort leaves (ài yè 艾叶) appear in the spring and have great significance in the Chinese herbal medicine world. Mugwort leaves are used as an antiseptic, repellant and expectorant, and often applied in medicinal teas or formulations for disorders in menstruation and fertility.
In the ancient western world, Romans planted mugwort by roadsides to make it available to travelers to put in their shoes for relieving aching feet and protecting them from exhaustion due to its ability of enhancing blood circulation.
Mugwort leaves are also used in moxibustion; an acupuncture technique by burning herbs on specific body points.
The herb has an increasing popularity as ingredient in modern natural supplements and herbal teas in western societies for intestinal cleansing and to ease digestive discomfort.