According to the legend, during the Spring and Autumn period, a person named Jie Zhitui followed his master Chong’er, the prince of Jin, and stayed with him during all the 19 years when the prince was in exile. Jie Zhitui was so loyal to this master that once when the prince was starved to death, Jie cut one piece of flesh from his leg to feed his master so as to save his life. However, when the prince ascended the throne and became king of the Jin state, he totally forgot about Jie Zhitui and what he had done. He awarded all his other follows except Jie. Jie, on his part, left his master with his old mother without even one word of complaint.
The local people were very indignant about this and they compiled a rhyme to satirize the king. The king learned about this and in order not to ruin his reputation, he ordered his men to Jie’s home to bring him back, yet they failed to find Jie. The king then learned that Jie had hidden in the Mian Mountain, so he ordered his men to search the mountain; again, they failed to find Jie. The king knew that Jie was a filial son, so he thought if he set the mountain on fire, Jie, for his mother’s sake, would definitely come out. Based on this thought, he ordered his men to set the mountain on fire. The fire lasted three whole days and nights, yet to the king’s disappointment, Jie never came out. In the end, Jie and his mother’s burned bodies were found beside a tree. That was the 103rd day after the Winter Solstice. The local people admired Jie Zhitui for his moral integrity. To commemorate him, they ate cold food and restrained from making fire on that day and the following two days. This is how Hanshi Festival, the Cold Food Day, came into being.