【Learn Chinese】Why is Qingming Festival Celebrated?

Qingming Festival (清明节, qīng míng jíe) is one of the most important traditional festivals in China. It falls on April 4th or 5th. In 2024, Qingming Festival falls on April 4th, when most Chinese people will enjoy a public holiday.
Why is Qingming Festival Celebrated?
There is a legend about the origin of the Qingming Festival relating to a mountain near Pingyao Ancient Town called Mianshan. Mian Mountain is also called Jieshan ('Jie Mountain') after Jie Zitui (?–636 BC). He protected the prince of the State of Jin, Chong'er, who went into exile due to civil unrest and persecution in 655 BC.
In the face of hunger and cold on the way, when Prince Chong'er was about to starve to death, Jie Zitui cut a piece of flesh off his thigh to cook a meat soup.
Nineteen years later, in 636 BC, Prince Chong'er took power and became a king as Duke Wen of Jin State (697–628 BC). Duke Wen greatly rewarded and honored all of his followers, but he forgot Jie Zitui. Meanwhile, Jie had lived in seclusion with his mother on Mian Mountain. The duke felt ashamed and decided to find Jie.
As it was difficult to find a person in the mountains, a malicious subject who was jealous of Jie suggested setting fire to the mountain to flush him out. After the fire, the duke and his people found the two burned bodies of Jie and his mother on the mountain.
The duke regretted this deeply, and designated the day as 'Cold Food Festival'. It was the day before Qingming Festival. In order to commemorate Jie, people ate cold food and banned fire on that day. And so, the Qingming cold food tradition lived on with this legend.
As time passed, the two festivals were gradually combined into one. On the day of the Cold Food Festival, people used no fire and only ate cold food. Now people in some places still have the custom of eating cold food on Qingming Festival.
Is it Proper to Say "Happy Qingming Festival"?
Unlike the Day of the Dead in Mexico, which is filled with great joy, the Qingming Festival is primarily associated with showing respect for departed spirits and making sacrifices. Therefore, it is not suitable to greet others with words like "happy," "joyful," "merry," and so on.
To greet others without offense on Qingming day, it is better and more polite to say:
Wishing you all best for Qingming Festival. (清明安好, qīng míng ān hǎo)
Wishing you health and safety for Qingming Festival. (清明健康平安, qīng míng jiàn kāng píng ān)