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Qing Ming Festival, 清明节

Today is a public holiday here in China (Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau) as it is the Qing Ming Festival. The festival is also known as Pure Brightness Festival, Clear Bright Festival, Ancestors Day or Tomb Sweeping Day. Although it isn't an official holiday in other Asian countries, Chinese communities such as in Singapore and Malaysia, still observe the traditions faithfully.

Qing Ming is celebrated by families reuniting and travelling to their ancestors’ grave sites to pay their respects. Weeds are removed from the grave and the tombstone is cleaned. Joss sticks are placed on the grave and lit and an offering of food and paper money is placed at the tomb. Three sets of chopsticks are stuck in the food, and three Chinese wine cups are also placed above, close to the headstone. The food is an offering to the spirits.

Paper money (joss money) and other paper objects aiding the ancestors’ in the afterlife are also burnt while family members show their respect by bowing to their ancestors. Other rituals include family members pouring wine on the grave or setting off firecrackers to scare away evil spirits. The firecrackers also let deceased loved ones know they've come to visit to pay their respects

Ancestor worship is a Chinese tradition dating back thousands of years. The practice of ancestor worship is based on three beliefs: a person’s good or bad fortune is influenced by the souls of his or her ancestors; all departed ancestors have the same material needs they had when alive; and the departed can assist their living relatives.

Qing Ming is also a time for spring outings to appreciate the beautiful scenes of nature, and flying kites. What makes flying kites during this festival special is that people fly kites not just during the day, but also at night. A string of little lanterns tied onto the kite or the thread look like shining stars and are called “God's lanterns”, people cut the string while the kite is in the sky to let it fly free. It is said this brings good luck.

 

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