You’ve been just told that you will have one more day free this week. You’re very happy even though you don’t quite understand why you’ve been granted this privilege. You ask your colleague. She says “Oh, it’s because of Qinming Festival”. That doesn’t tell you much. Being completely clueless (which is written all over your face) as to the identity of mentioned Festival you’re asking for more elaborated explanation. With the help of your friend and ,of course, irreplaceable uncle Google, you’ve managed to reveal the mystery.
Qinming Jie is a Chinese equivalent for Christian All Saints Day. According to Chinese believes the soul after death is wandering the world and still has earthly needs. It’s hungry, thirsty, and cold. That is why during Tomb Sweeping Day whole family gathers to make offerings to the spirits to contribute to their batter afterlife. In ancient China, there was a tradition to bury deceased with all the necessities (clothes, pots etc.). The most spectacular example of this custom is the Terracotta Army (210–209 BC, Xi’an). Those figures were buried with the emperor in order to guard him in the underworld.
Nowadays people are no longer buried with offerings (most of the bodies get cremated after death either way). That is why Chinese invented a new way to supply their ancestors with goods. You just need to burn a paper equivalent of the thing you want to send to the underworld. The most common thing offered that way is so called Hell Money. That is fake money that you suppose to burn on the Tomb, so that a spirit can enjoy luxurious afterlife. Since China became more open to the West in shops you can buy also Hell Money in foreign currency (mostly Hell Dollars and Euro). Apart from money, people offer also paper equivalents of houses, cars, TV-s or even iPhones (the least appear to be a bestseller on internet auctions during these days). You’re also supposed to offer food. Spirits if fed, are said to protect the family.
Who am I?
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My name is Aga.
I come from Poland.
Currently (since October 2012) I’m working in China as an English teacher embracing my new life as a foreigner in the Far East. For more - look “About me” chapter.
Photos made available under a Creative Commons License.