S.S is one of my suitemates. We were also friends in high school. She was born in the states but moved to Taiwan for school. Her family is Taiwanese. As an individual, she is really interested in sports, and recently, while in college, she has also become really interested in Christianity. While participating in these many things, she has experienced many traditions that are expressed as folklore.
This tradition is about visiting the relatives who passed away and respecting them. S.S told me that each year, when they were in Taiwan; they would go to the graveyard of her grandmother. To visit their grandmother, S.S and her parents would go to a tradition Chinese market, and buy fruits, rice, and chicken (just any food in general). They then went to the graveyard site, lay out plates and put the food they bought on it. The foods would usually be laid out neatly. The family would then take incense and put it into a pot and would do a “bai bai,” a form of silent prayers to communicate with them. Then after, they would clean up everything.
S.S experienced this right after she moved to Taiwan from the states. She started doing it in 3rd grade, and her parents were the ones that told her to do this tradition with them. She thought that this tradition was interesting because she gets to connect with her ancestors. In addition she can see how much her mom cared about her mother. Her mother would always buy the best quality food, despite the cost, and they would do it every year.
Food and incense is a big part of communicating with the ancestors. Incense is also a big part of Chinese cultural. People would light of incense whether praying or during the Chinese New Year. Foods were also used as a way to connect with the ancestors by giving them something to eat during the afterlife. In a way, it’s like a gift for them even though he ancestors are dead.
I think the Chinese culture is more influenced by the respect of the dead because Chinese culture is more respectful to family. Even if they’re dead, one cannot forget about the relatives as they still need to take care of them when they die. This may be different from western culture because they haven’t been taught by the value of family. Of course family is still very important in the western culture, but the Chinese culture has significant figures like Confucius who values filial piety; respecting your elder.