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.