Evolution of Qing Ming Festival

The celebrations of Qing Ming Festival have changed so much that they look unrecognizable compared those of Chong Er’s reign. It may seem that the current celebration of Qing Ming have not changed much since a few decades ago, but that is not the case.

I would first like to talk about the impact of immigration on the holiday in China itself. I interviewed my grandmother because she has experienced the celebration of Qing Ming in the rural China, urban China, and New York City.

Growing up in rural China, my grandmother got exposed to the rampant sexism there, rooted in the Confucian ideals. The rigid gender roles barred girls and women from participating in many celebrations and one of them being Qing Ming Festival.

Present Guangzhou countryside

As my grandmother recounts, in the countryside, only the sons had the right to go up to the grave sites and pray to the ancestors and gods. According to the Confucianism, the men took the place as the head of the family and the women in the shadows. 1Therefore, following the same logic, a holiday as important as Qing Ming Festival would have been limited to to males only.

The archaic views of women started to change with the emergence of outspoken revolutionaries who opposed the old teachings and wanted to create a new China.

The propaganda poster says "Chairman Mao will always be with us" and shows both men and women supporting Mao.

One famous activist who advocated gender equality: Mao Ze Dong. Mao outlawed many ancient Chinese traditions such as foot binding and polygamy. He encouraged women to pursue higher education and enter the workforce. He initiated all this change because he believed working women would help to economic institutions grow. 2 Even though he did not act out of solely good intent and remains a controversial figure, Mao did change the role and improve the status of women in China.


Mao's famous quote on a cap

In China, the changes in gender roles of women was evident in the cities. My grandmother moved back to the city in Guangzhou. In the city, she noticed that both women and men celebrate Qing Ming Festival. The rules for men and women were much more relaxed, the discrimination less pronounced.

The city stood for advancement and progression and it showed in the lessening inequality gap.

The attitude toward women changed the celebration of the holiday in China, but when my grandmother moved to New York, she noted that the lukewarm attitude toward the holiday as a whole.

  1. Reese, Lyn. “Gender Difference in History: Women in China and Japan Essay (Women in World History Curriculum).” Women In World History Curriculum. Web. 17 May 2011. <http://www.womeninworldhistory.com/essay-04.html>.
  2. Nosotro, Rit. “Changing Role of Women in China.” HyperHistory.net. Web. 17 May 2011. <http://www.hyperhistory.net/apwh/essays/cot/t3w24womenchinap2kk.htm>.

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