A: It’s this festival question mark. Called Qingming. It’s the date where the dead will supposedly return from, supposedly come back to life and yeah, I don’t remember the story associated with it. But I do know that this day every year, most Chinese people visit their deceased people, deceased family or friends’ grave and then bring them food and stuff.
B: Do you remember the date of this festival?
A: If I search I can find it *laughter*
B: Do you know what kinds of food people would bring?
A: People bring all kinds of food. Something special I guess question mark. We have something it’s called hell’s—not hell but like, there isn’t a concept of hell or heaven but there is a place where people go to when they die and Chinese people will believe that is where reincarnation occurs. Um what we do on Qingming is that we burn money to them and we also burn other paper products like we burn a paper car, a paper house. And supposedly anything that’s burned by smoke should be received by them. And so we also it’s not particularly related to Qingming. People do that on Qingming, but it’s not just Qingming, it’s anytime for their dead family friends. It’s called, they do, it’s like some kind of intense. It’s sort of similar to what you would see in a budest temple. I’m not sure if you’ve seen one before. People like to burn three of them for dead people. It’s said that two is for alive and three is for dead and then sometimes people do one. Anyway, it’s singular and people just use the smoke to convey their thoughts, feelings, and emotions to people it’s believed that anything that burns can be transferred.
Context: The informant was born and grew up in China before moving to the United States to attend High School. The informant grew up always away of Qingming, but has not partaken in the tradition as of yet.
Analysis: Qingming is also known as Tomb Sweeping Day. It is celebrated in China and several other countries in South East Asia. It is celebrated around April 5th as the spring time is supposed to be a time for people to enjoy the outside and take care of their deceased loved ones’ graves. Burning paper makes the paper disappear similar to how a deceased person disappears from their body when they die. Furthermore, fire and smoke climb upward away from human existence and therefore mirrors the deceased’s journey. Therefore the offerings are following a similar path to the person they are supposed to reach. The informant is unsure as to the reasoning behind the purpose of burning three incenses as opposed to two.