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Tomb Sweeping

weather: cloudy
mood: mellow
music: Ben Heppner - O Noble Lame Etincelante, Airs Français

The Chinese say it's not a good idea to keep going back to the grave site of the deceased after the funeral. That way, the soul won't leave the Middle Kingdom to go where it's supposed to because it keeps being attracted back by the energies of the living. There are only two times in the year that you go Tomb Sweeping or "go to pay your respects" - it is not supposed to be called "visiting"; you don't ever "visit the deceased", nor do you ever "go to see them".

The Spring Remembrance, 清 明 , is 105 days after the Winter Solstice of the Lunar Calendar. It's sometime in late March or early April of the Western calendar. The Autumn Remembrance, 崇 洋 , is the Ninth Day of the Ninth Moon of the Lunar Calendar which is some time in mid-October (it'll be October 14, 2002). This is when the family goes to the grave site to weed/clean/sweep the grave site (hence the term "Grave Sweeping") and pay their respects.

You also bring

  • rice
  • cooked whole chicken, with the head still attached
  • cooked pork
  • various assorted and expensive fruits
  • wine or whiskey
  • any particular food that the deceased favoured in life.

The meal would be taken to the cemetery and laid out on the ground or table as would a regular meal. Often Chinese burial grounds are outfitted with altar-like tables for such activities. I don't know if they'll have them where Grandma is.

Three rounded bowls of rice, three cups of rice wine and three sets of chopsticks would be laid out. The whole family would bow and pray to the ancestor, asking for the security of the family. Once the table is set, the youngest child present picks up the glass with the wine and pours it onto the grave, providing a drink for the ancestor. Then all present would partake in the food, assuring that the dead would not have to dine alone. This ritual is performed to ensure that the dead were not hungry on the other side, and provided good fortune for all their descendants.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 28th, 2002 08:56 pm (UTC)
清明 and 崇洋
多谢! I love any information about Chinese culture I can get, and thank you as well for the lovely characters. I've read several of your entries so far but this one really struck me.
May. 28th, 2002 09:09 pm (UTC)
Re: 清明 and 崇洋
You're welcome =) I only wish there were better system fonts for Chinese text on the Windows platform.

this one really struck me

Yeah, Grandma had a Western style funeral, so there wasn't much to say there. =P

This entry might be of interest to you... it's about "Chinese Alphabetical Order" =)

I have other Chinese culture things peppered throughout this journal - mostly to do with weddings... gee, you'd think I got married or somethin' =D
May. 28th, 2002 10:00 pm (UTC)
Re: 清明 and 崇洋
Hee hee. It sounds like you have a happy marriage. I read the entry about you and "Husband Guy" sticking each others feet in eachothers faces. :D It sounds very fun and playful. Did you have a traditional Chinese wedding?

I'm off to read that entry. Thank you for giving me the info on it. I love learning about the culturel
May. 28th, 2002 10:07 pm (UTC)
Re: 清明 and 崇洋
It sounds like you have a happy marriage.

We've had our ups and downs in the last 10 years, but yeah, I have to say, it's generally a very happy marriage =)

Did you have a traditional Chinese wedding?

Partially. =) We did a church ceremony mid-morning, then a traditional Chinese banquet in the evening. We didn't do the Tea Ceremony (which I was all prepared for) because we decided that the Grandparents needed to take their afternoon naps. =)
May. 28th, 2002 10:48 pm (UTC)
Re: 清明 and 崇洋
Have you been married for 10 years? I thought it was more recent than that... Or did you mean that you've been together as a couple for that long?
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


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