Festival – China

“There’s this Chinese festival called Qingming, where you go to the gravesite once a year and pay respect to the dead. It happens around Chinese New Year. We do it for my “Po Po” and “Gong Gong”, my great grandfather and great grandmother. We have to put incense around the graves, in groups of three, because there is something spiritual about the number 3. Also, we set up a little table, a low one, so you can kneel and we make offerings to different spirits, one of them is the gatekeeper. You have to have certain types of foods, weird foods like fish heads and things like tea and wine. We also bring a large 55 gallon tub, a metal barrel, and we start a fire in there. We burn what is called hell money, which is fake money with pictures of the devil and some other perverse things on it. Afterwards, my whole family goes to this Chinese restaurant Hee Hing that we always eat at. Anytime my family gets together, we always eat there. We started doing this when my great grandmother died. This is way too much work, and my family is becoming less connected, and we don’t get together as much. I don’t think I will continue to do this.”

For Matt, the Qingming festival is when he and his family tend the graves of their ancestors and perform the necessary ceremonies. I was able to do some research and the Qingming festival is pretty much what Matt said it was. It is a Chinese festival that is meant to pay respects to the dead and calls for their relatives to tend to their grave sites. It also seems that the Qingming has become a large family event for Matt, sort of like a reunion, where he and his relatives get together and eat and spend time with each other.

Annotation: This is documented in the New York Times.

NewYork Times. For Visitors, Graveyard Holds Memories of a Bloody Era. 10 April, 2006.