Wednesday, April 4, 2012

QuingMing The "Tomb Sweeping" Holiday

Today is a traditional Chinese holiday.  April 4th is the start of the two day celebration of the dead in Chinese culture.  The name, "Tomb Sweeping Day" sounds a bit odd in English but the purpose is very good.  You show honor and respect to you ancestors by going and tending to their grave sites.

There is also usually a burnt sacrifice.  I find this very interesting.  You burn money (either real or "funerary money" and also paper copies of other objects.  For example, if you knew someone who died who liked cars,  you might burn a paper car to them for them to have  in the afterlife.

Minxi is very sad today.  Although her mother died when she was seven, Minxi still feels very close to her.  Unfortunately, her mother is buried in her hometown.  Local custom dictates that only family  members may be present today and, since Minxi has married, she is no longer, technically part of that family.  She will go to the local temple today and spend some time in memory of her mother.  She will also pray to my ancestors, asking that they bless us.  Boy is that gonna confuse my grandpa!

This Chinese holiday is specifically meant for what it says.  Today is the day that you should go tend to the grave of your lost loved ones.  Southern China is dotted with these beautiful, round tombs. They look very much like Hobbit holes.  The form is a short, curved concrete wall rising to about 3 feet with a round door in the center.  Usually there is a small offering space in front and possibly a small concrete patio.   I would show  you a picture but it is very bad form to photograph someone's final resting place.  I encourage you to Google it.

If you've got a moment, stop and remember your ancestors today  Most cultures have a festival like the "tomb sweeping festival."  It is a shame that in our country is has been reduced to the candy dispensing machine of Halloween.  I very much like the two day Chinese Holiday better.

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