Time to sweep those tombs! It's Qingming - Tomb Sweeping Day. I was going to blog about my apartment complex today, but then I realized that April 4th is a national holiday and surely you would want to know about it, right?

Burning OfferingsIt's pretty easy to explain Qingming to Texans - it's like Mexico's Day of the Dead! In Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and countries with large Chinese populations, like Singapore and Malaysia, families will return to their ancestral homes to care for the tombs of the dead. Everyone will pray to the ancestors and then leave offerings of food, tea, chopsticks and everyday items made out of paper, including money. These paper offerings will be burned in hopes the ancestors can use them in the afterlife. The air will be filled with smoke from all the burning offerings. Some celebrate by visiting the local temple to burn incense and leave offerings there. Chinese love to eat, so celebrations will end with a big family feast.

Paper Money
In Mainland China, the celebrations are pretty low-key. When the communists took control in 1949, they abolished the holiday, calling it a superstitious remnant of the past. Last year, the government decided it was time to bring back some of these traditions and so they reinstated the holiday. I get a three day weekend, so I can't complain!

I obviously have no family tombs to sweep and there is only one tiny Buddhist temple in all of Linyi, so I decided to do some Spring cleaning here at home instead. I swept a lot of dust! I don't know if it is the pollution or dirt roads or both, but an awful lot of dust seems to accumulate here. More so than I remember back in Texas! Now that the sweeping is done, I will treat myself to some food. If only I could get my hands on some piles of real offering money!

All photos used under a Creative Commons license

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