Children fly kites at Luzhou Park in Hefei, the capital of Anhui province, in March. GE CHUANHONG/XINHUA
The Tang emperors organized polo contests and performances of singing and dancing. Scholars had gatherings to toast the festival and write poems. Ordinary people enjoyed themselves by holding cockfights or carving auspicious patterns on eggs.
Some experts argue that the ancient painting Riverside Scene at the Qingming Festival portrays the traditions of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127), with its vivid depictions of the lifestyles of people from all walks of life, rich or poor.
In the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, there were more recreational activities added to the festival such as a temple fair. People not only enjoyed beautiful flowers, but also watched shows like acrobatics and ate delicious snacks.
In the southern Yangtze region of China, the tradition of eating qingtuan is still prevalent. The green dumplings are made of glutinous rice mixed with barley grass, often filled with sweet red bean paste.
The current Tomb Sweeping Day incorporates observances of the Cold Food Festival. During the festival, people avoided lighting fires and only ate cold food. The two festivals are now combined into one.
During the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC), loyal courtier Jie Zitui cut flesh from his thigh to prepare a meal to feed Prince Chong'er, who had been forced to flee. When Chong'er regained power and became Duke Wen of Jin, he overlooked Jie, who left the court to live in a forest.
As Jie refused Chong'er's offer to come back to court, the latter set the forest on fire to force Jie and his mother to come out of hiding, only to find that they were burned to death. Out of remorse he renamed the Cold Food Festival in memory of Jie.