Tomb Sweeping day in China

April 17, 2013 Comments disabled ,

Two PocketCultures readers from China wrote in with this post about tomb sweeping day in China, which was on April 4th this year.

Tomb-sweeping Day has a very long history in China. It is an important day which shows that we Chinese value family ties and our ancestors. For the older generation, the most common practice is to return to their birthplace and to visit the cemetery of their ancestors. In the countryside, many tombs look like small piles of earth.

Tombs decorated at a cemetery in Beijing

The men do away with the weeds on the tombs and give a new look to them. Then people burn paper cash and some other paper things, hoping that their loved ones could receive and use them in their afterlife. Some even bring some food and white sprits and leave them there for their departed ones to enjoy; of course it is just wishes.

People usually stand beside the tombs for a long while in memory of their loved ones or talk to them as if they were alive or cry to show their lament. There’s a saying that if the alive “treated” the dead well, they would be blessed and brought fortunes by the dead.

However, now more and more people, especially people in the urban areas, just bring flowers to the graveyard to show their love and respect for their ancestors.

There’s a famous poem written by DuMu, an ancient Chinese poet of the Tang dynasty. The general idea is like this: on a rainy Tomb-Sweeping Day, I met some people on the road grieving for their departed ones. I asked a buffalo boy where there was a pub, and he pointed to the village surrounded by blooming almonds far away.

This is a guest post by Alice Wang from Jiangsu province, China. Alice is a university student in Xuzhou normal university, which has just changed its name into Jiangsu normal university. She majors in English translation and interpretation and will graduate in three months. Alice wrote this post together with Luna, her classmate and roommate. They both like to know more about the world and, to share their own culture with other people.

Thanks to gadgetdan on Flickr for the photo, licensed via Creative Commons.

Read more:
Day of the dead: a Mexican festival celebrated in the USA
Festivals around the world
Ancestor worship in Okinawa, Japan

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