It is that time of the year when Chinese families across the world gather at the graves of their relatives to observe the Qingming Festival or the Tomb Sweeping Day.

The private festival usually occurs on April 4 or 5 and marks the occasion for Chinese to enjoy the outdoors and tend to the graves of the departed souls.

Chinese legends say that the Duke Jin Wen or Prince Chonger (697-628 BC), who reigned the state of Jin, was expelled from the royal court by a displeased concubine, forcing him to live in exile for three years. He was assisted by loyal friend and advisor Jie Zitui during his exile until he could regain his throne.

However, in the course of time, Jie was at the receiving end of the king's ire, who burned down a mountain to force his loyal companion out. Later, a remorseful king designated a day on which Jie's memory would be honored.

The tomb-sweeping tradition is kept alive to date, with Chinese families cleaning and sweeping graves, worshipping their ancestors, offering food and burning paper structures.

The Chinese pray before the graves, sweep the tombs and offer food, tea, wine, chopsticks and joss paper accessories. Some people adorn their doorstep with willow branches as the tradition says the willow branches help ward off the evil spirits.

The tradition has gone through several modernizing transformations over the years. According to the Shanghai Daily, high-quality paper iPhones and iPads costing 100 yuan (about $15) have become the latest fad among those who burn paper structures during the festival.

Click on 'Start' to view the vignettes of the festival.