Tomb Sweeping Festival – Chinese Qīngmíng jié
Tomb Sweeping Festival Explained
Every year on the 15th day after the Spring Equinox, Chinese people celebrate 清明节 (Qīngmíng jié) “Tomb Sweeping Festival”, a day in which Chinese people pay respect to their ancestors. Even though the festival has more than 2,500 years of history, it only became an official public holiday in China in the year 2008.
In order to observe 清明节 (Qīngmíng jié) Chinese people go to the cemetery to honour, remember and celebrate the memory of their dead relatives and ancestors.
Chinese Qingming Festival – The Ceremony
The ceremony can be divided in to three main parts: The first part consists of tombs and graves being tended, cleaning and removing any debris from the tombstones. Praying is the second stage of the Qīngmíng ritual. A member of the family lights up incense sticks, which are stuck into the ground. Family members then take turns and offer prayers to their ancestors.
During the final part of the ceremony offers are given to the deceased. This can be in the form of food, alcohol, paper goods or so called “ghost money” being burned as a formal offering for the afterlife of the beloved. In return for this it is believed that ancestors will bless their living family members and help them have a prosperous year in the temporal world. At the end of the entire ceremony all the family members gather around the tomb and throw up coloured papers in the air to the heaven for blessing.
Chinese Qingming Festival 2.0
In the modern version of this rite a big emphasis is given to the material aspects of the ceremony: paper made goods in the form of cars, smart-phones, tablets and other technological gadgets are especially been made for this occasion while wealth and luck is asked in return.
Furthermore, people that live too far from their ancestors tombs are now able to send flowers, candles or food through the internet. In fact special websites have been created for this festival addressed as “internet memorials”. All that must be done is select the items and make an online payment to the website for delivering the goods. This convenient method to honour Qīngmíng jié has been encouraged by local authorities because it is considered eco-friendly and also reduces the risk of accidental fires during ceremonies.
Anyway this festival is not only a day for remembering and honoring the departed, but also a day to be spent with family outdoors or traveling in the flourishing colors of the spring after a long and gray winter.
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