The Tale of Tomb Sweeping Day
This is a story about the Cold Food Festival. It happened in the Jin State 2000 years ago during the Spring and Autumn Period.
Chong Er was the prince of Jin. During the internal conflict of the court, Chong Er was set up by some treacherous officials, and his father was made to believe that Chong Er was going to rebel. The King flew into a rage and commanded to kill Chong Er. So Chong Er had to run away from the country.
When he was on his way to escape, Chong Er and his subordinates got lost in the mountain. For several days, they didn't get enough food, and Chong Er was almost starved to death.
To save Chong Er, one of his subjects named Jie Zitui secretly cut a piece of flesh from his own thigh and roasted it to feed Chong Er.
When Chong Er later found out, he was moved to tears.
Years later, Chong Er became the King of the Jin Kingdom. He wanted to thank Jie and asked him to be his minister, but Jie refused and hid in the mountain. To force him to go out of the mountain, Chong Er asked his men to set a fire to the mountain. Unfortunately, Jie Zitui did not come down the mountain and was burnt to death instead. Filled with sorrow and regret, Chong Er ordered that no one should make fire to cook and only cold food can be eaten on that day every year.
And from that day on, people began to offer sacrifice to the ancestors and martyrs. The Cold Food Festival was gradually evolved into the "Qingming Festival". The Chinese will go to dust the tombs of ancestors as a means of commemorating the deceased. Therefore, the Qingming Festival is also called "Tomb Sweeping Day".
Chinese usually sweep tombs and fly kites on this day. Because Jie Zitui died at the foot of a willow, the Chinese also cut sticks of willow and hang them over their gates.