Introduction to Qing MIng Festival
of the most important festival in the Chinese calendar is the
Qing Ming or Tomb Sweeping Day.
concept of filial piety or obedience to one's elderly or ancestors
is a very important
concept in the Chinese culture. Traditionally, the Chinese
believed that the spirits of deceased ancestors will look after
the family even when they are gone. Hence. offering
of food and spirit money could keep them happy in the spiritual
world, and in turn, the living family will continue to prosper
through good harvests and more children from the ancestor's blessing.
today, this is still a very
ancestor's altar or photo is commonly found in the family home
and offerings and incence is always provided.
a year, during
Qing Ming, the Chinese visit their family graves
to tend to any underbrush and weeds that has grown out of hand
around the grave. Weeds are pulled, dirt swept away and joss
sticks, food and paper money is offered to the departed.
year's Qing Ming or Tomb Sweeping day falls
on April 6. Generally, a week before and two weeks after Qing
Ming is acceptable to honor the ancestors
at the temples, grave site or crematoriums. This is also a practical
measure as these places will be utterly
packed during Qing Ming and to spread the prayer
days out makes a lot of practical sense.
the early days, before the concept of cremation, dead Chinese
are always buried. Middle income and well to do families will
ensure the deceased get as good a coffin and as good a grave
that they can afford. Even when they are old, sick and far
away from home, they will try to return to their birthplace
spend their dying days, so that they can be buried at their
Chinese believe that to be buried at one's hometown will mean
that the spirit will rest well and in turn bless their surviving
children and their families.
due to globalization and the trend of cremation, being buried,
especially in one's hometown, is no longer practical. Hence,
in place, on the burial tablet or the ash holder, the hometown
and birthplace is always inscribed in addition to the deceased
name and date of birth and death, so that the spirit can find
their way home.
ancestors begins with proper positioning of a gravesite and
coffin. Rich families will believe in the concept of "feng
or geomancy and as far as possible, will choose an area that
faces south, with groves of pine trees to create the best
flow of cosmic energy required to keep ancestors happy.
in turn, bless the living family! Family members will visit
the gravesite of their ancestors at least once a year to
the tombs, especially on Qing Ming. The Chinese will cook
up good food to their ancestors at altar tables on Qing
their homes. The food usually consists of chicken, eggs,
or other dishes a deceased ancestor was fond of. Accompanied
the dishes and eating utensils are carefully arranged acccording
to a certain position so as to bring good luck.
times, incence or paper offerings are burnt and offered to
the ancestors as well. These are known as "hell money" or "paper
the belief that the dead needs to spend money in their afterlife
many graves or crematoriums are located in remote locations,
and sometimes a family has more than one grave to visit, a
and pray at ancestral graves during Qing Ming can
be a trip at the crack of dawn and to end only late at last
times, this is a entire family trip, whereby parents will share
the value of Qing Ming with their young children and impressing
onto them the Chinese tradition of honoring their ancestors.
is not uncommon to find traffic jams and chaotic mess at these
remote temples, graveyards and crematoriums which are normally
quiet throughout the entire year but tend to see massive crowd
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