Tomb Sweeping Day (清明节 qīngmíng jiē) is a time for families to celebrate life, and to pay respects to their ancestors. It’s a time of mixed emotions: sadness over lost loved ones and joy for the return of spring. Start the day right, by commemorating your ancestors and other loved ones who’ve passed on. In China, it’s especially important to look after departed members of the family, as their spirits protect the living descendents (i.e. you). April 5th is a day to visit their graves, pull weeds, and sweep the grounds. Offerings of food, rice wine, and paper money will all help ensure the spirits are smiling. If you’re unable to visit their graves, one popular way to pay respect is to burn paper money on a street corner at night, which is a regular sight around China. (Be careful to keep your distance from others who are memorializing in this way—not only out of respect, but also because the ghosts they’re calling might follow you home!)
Other ways to celebrate this holiday are by enjoying the nascent spring air. A picnic in the park, or a little kite flying, would be appropriate, and you’ll see the parks around China full of people doing just this.
Prefer to celebrate the arcane and macabre the western way, with Halloween? Well find out what the Chinese think of that.