Ching Ming in Chinese means "clear and bright". In western terms, this holiday is a Chinese memorial day. It is a time of sentimental remembrance of those who have passed on by those who continue. It is a time to rejoice in the communion of ongoing lineage and a time to ponder eternal thoughts. Entire families take the day to repair their forebearers' resting places.
Graves are swept, manicured, fresh flowers placed, and perhaps a few new bushes or trees are planted. Offerings of meats, vegetables, wine, and often a complete dinner are arranged and placed in front of the tombs. Other offerings of paper money and other symbols of wealth are burned in the belief that it will transform into real wealth for their ancestors in the spiritual world.
Members of the family will bow to express their respect and transmit their regards. Usually, the eldest begins this portion of the rite by reading a prayer which is subsequently burned amidst the explosion of firecrackers. Thus, the spirits of the ancestors are soothed. Their devoted offsprings have not neglected or forgotten them.
Ching Ming traces its roots to the deep attachment that Chinese feel for the land from which they sprang. It is a feeling of "home" that is inseparable from the physical place. A classic illustration of how fervently Chinese respect this bond is evidenced by the custom of carrying an actual piece of earth from their home as an amulet when traveling to faraway places.
Spring is perhaps the best time for memorial days. The blossoming of flowers, and the fresh green atmosphere of Spring, inspires a truth feeling of rebirth.
(A substantial portion of the above info was derived from "Festivals and Folk Arts" published by China Travel and Trade, under authorization of the Tourism Bureau, Ministry of Communications, Republic of China.) Many Thanks!
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