Wednesday, April 4, 2012

...Tomb Sweeping Festival...

This week's events included Qingming Festival, often known as Tomb Sweeping Day.  Several of my colleagues explained that during this time, people will travel to the graves of their ancestors and pay respects.  At Gaoxin No. 1 High School, the students had a break from school on Tuesday and Wednesday.  However, they had to make up the days this past weekend.  Teachers and students (and interns from Kentucky :) were all at school on Saturday and Sunday. 

Chinese communities mark tomb-sweeping festival
From: BBC Last Updated: April 4, 2012, 2:30 pm
Chinese communities around Asia are marking the annual Qingming Festival on 4 April - also known as Tomb-sweeping Day.

It is a day when people pay tribute to their ancestors by visiting their graves, and the ritual always begins with some proper cleaning.

China, Hong Kong and Taiwan all observe a public holiday for the traditional occasion. A three-day holiday began on 2 April in mainland China.

People offer food, incense sticks and paper replicas of various daily items for the deceased to use in their afterlife.

In recent years offerings to the dead have become more elaborate - the most talked-about offerings this year are replicas of Apple's iPad and iPhone.

Some environmentalists have appealed for people to offer flowers instead, as the burning of incense sticks and paper offerings creates pollution.

Cemeteries become very crowded during the festival. Reports from Beijing say the most famous Babaoshan Cemetery has offered to keep its doors open beyond midnight to relieve the pressure.

On our walk to Lotus this evening, Ben and I encountered these signs of tomb sweeping festival:

Other sources said that this week is significant for planting crops.  Many flower beds were installed this week.  These folks were definitely putting in overtime on Monday evening.  The specks you see reflected by the camera flash give you an idea of the dust in the air.  There are large displays of flowers all over the city now.  I can't imagine the amount of water it will take to keep them alive.

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