USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘family members’

Tomb Sweeping Day

The informant is my father who has always grown up in Taiwan but came to America for grad school. Understanding both cultures, he has a very wide understanding of the traditions in our household and its practices.

Informant: 清明節 (Qing Ming Jie) – Tomb-sweeping day is a day of respecting one’s ancestors and going to their burial grounds to pray and clean their tombs. In our family, our ancestors are all on a big mountain with a very large grave that holds all of my ancestor’s ashes. Due to the large mountain and many other patrons, there is a group that stays there and periodically cleans the gravesites monthly. So because we do not have to do any of the cleaning, we bring food and drinks to offer to our ancestors. Inside the tomb site, we have a whiteboard that we use to leave our names down every time we visit. It has become a tradition for us to all write our names down every visit along with the date. Because you and your cousins are in America, you guys cannot attend Tomb Sweeping day, so we always write down your names instead.

I always understood that this day was to sweep your ancestors’ tombs, but since I have never experienced it, I never had to do any of the tomb sweeping myself. Honestly, my dad said that after our ancestors have bought that specific land on the mountain, we have never had to do any of the tomb sweeping, which in a sense defeats the whole purpose of the tradition. To better accommodate the traditional holiday in Taiwan, it has become a family reunion day for our family.


Seeing a deceased family member in your dreams will bring you an untimely death.

In your dreams when you see a deceased family member and follow them, you will soon die and meet them in the afterlife.

My informant was told about this specific superstition when she was in high school. She states that a widow whom she knew saw her husband in her dream and soon passed away from an accident. She believes that this is due to how strong family bonds are in Korea; widows and family members are known to mourn their lost ones heavily in Korea, just like anywhere else. Thus she believes that family members usually follow their loved ones to the afterlife as they want to be with them. She also states that she tells this to her friends and family so that they do not have a similar fate.

I have a different take; I believe that this story is a way of moving on from your deceased family members per say. This story discourages people from sulking or being depressed about their family members for too long. It encourages people to live with the living and not think about the deceased. What is interesting about this myth is that it stays alive due to the connections that are made with people passing away after seeing their loved ones in their dreams. The only explanation for this is the fact that it has to be a strange coincidence.