Tomb Sweeping Festival

Informant: N.N

Nationality: American

Primary Language: English

Other Language(s): N/A

Age: 19

Occupation: Student

Residence: Burbank, CA

Performance Date: 04/26/2024

N.N is 19 years old and is from Burbank, CA. I am close friends with his brother, so N.N is an acquaintance of mine.  I asked him if there are any festivals or rituals he participates in regularly. He tells me about the Tomb Sweeping Festival that his family participates in every year as well as the funeral customs they do during the festival. 

“Every spring break, around March or April, my family and I go to Thailand to celebrate the Tomb Sweeping Festival. It’s a tradition that’s been part of our family since I was thirteen. During the festival, we visit the altars of my great grandparents and clean them meticulously. It’s not just about tidying up; it’s a whole ritual. We bring offerings for my ancestors—my grandma’s parents. These offerings usually include their favorite foods and flowers. One of the most vivid parts of the festival is when we light firecrackers and sparklers on their altars. We then pray in Thai because our ancestors, grandma and mom used to live in Thailand. My mom and grandma always remind us, “If they weren’t alive, you wouldn’t be here”. I think they say this to instill a sense of respect and gratitude towards our ancestors. To them, and now to me, it’s important that we acknowledge and remember where we came from. Honestly, I think it’s a beautiful way to remember and pay respects to those who have passed away.”

Their Tomb Sweeping Festival reflects deep cultural values of respect, remembrance, and family ties. It emphasizes the importance of honoring one’s ancestors and acknowledging their contributions to our current lives. This ritual also shows the value of continuity and connection across generations, which reminds us of our heritage and the cycle of life. It’s a way for them to bond over shared history and instill a sense of gratitude for the past even in younger generations. The festival also embodies Chinese cultural values such as filial piety, showing their cultural roots.