Cold Food Festival

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Cold Food Festival
Official name Hanshi Festival (寒食節)
Also called Cold Food Festival
Observed by Chinese, Koreans, Vietnamese
Type Cultural
Begins 105th day after dongzhi (April 5)
Ends 107th day after dongzhi (April 7)
Duration 3 days
Frequency annual
Related to Tết Hàn Thực, Hanshik (한식)
Cold Food Festival
Chinese name
Simplified Chinese
Traditional Chinese
Vietnamese name
Vietnamese Tết Hàn Thực
Korean name
Hangul 한식
Hanja

The Cold Food Festival or Hanshi Festival is a traditional Chinese holiday celebrated for three consecutive days starting the day before the Qingming Festival in the Chinese Calendar, which falls on April 5 by the Gregorian calendar, except in leap years (the 105th day after dongzhi). It is celebrated in China as well as the nearby nations of Korea and Vietnam. At this time of year, the sky becomes clearer and buds sprout in the field. Farmers sow various seeds and supply water to their rice paddies.

Legend[edit]

Legend has it that Prince Chong'er of the state of Jin during the Spring and Autumn period, endured many hardships while he was exiled from his home state. Once, in order to help the prince who was tormented by hunger, Jie Zhitui (介之推; or Jie Zitui 介子推) cut off the flesh from his thigh and offered it to the prince for sustenance.

Later, when Chong'er became Duke Wen of Jin, he ordered a search for Jie Zhitui who had gone into hiding in the remote mountains with his mother. Jie Zhitui had no political ambitions and felt ashamed to work with his hypocritical fellows, hence refused invitation of the Duke. Duke Wen ordered the mountains to be burned down in order to force Jie out of hiding. However, the fire ended up killing Jie and his mother.

Filled with remorse, Duke Wen ordered that each year during these three days the setting of fire is forbidden – all food was to be consumed cold. Therefore the Festival is thus named.[1] In the city of Jiexiu in Shanxi Province, where Jie died, locals still remember this tradition. But even for them the tradition of eating cold food is no longer practiced.

The traditionally practiced activities during the Cold Food Festival includes the visitation of ancestral tombs, cock-fighting, playing on swings, beating out blankets (to freshen them), tug-of-war, etc. The practice of visiting ancestral tombs is especially ancient.

In China ancestral worship used to be practiced during the time of the Cold Food Festival. It was later moved to coincide with the Qingming Festival. However in Korea, where the festival is called Hansik (hangul: 한식), the tradition of ancestral worship during the Cold Food Festival still remains.

Observations outside China[edit]

Korea[edit]

In Korea, it is called Hanshik, literally meaning "cold food," and is a traditional Korean holiday. In the modern version of Hansik, people welcome the warm weather thawing the frozen lands. On this day, rites to worship ancestors are observed early in the morning, and the family visits their ancestors' tombs to tidy up.

Falling on the 105th day after the winter solstice (April 5 by the Gregorian calendar, except in leap years). At this time of year, the sky becomes clearer and buds sprout in the field. Farmers sow various seeds and supply water to their rice paddies. The custom of eating cold food on this day is believed to originate from the Chinese legend, but recently this custom has disappeared.

Since this day coincides with Arbor Day, public cemeteries are crowded with visitors planting trees around the tombs of their ancestors.

Vietnam[edit]

In Vietnam, where it is called Tết Hàn Thực, the Cold Food Festival is celebrated by Vietnamese people in the northern part of the country on the third day of the third lunar month, but only marginally. People cook glutinous rice balls called bánh trôi on that day but the holiday's origins are largely forgotten, and the fire taboo is also largely ignored.

See also[edit]

References[edit]