Tomb-Sweeping Day

Five coloured papers placed on the mound of a grave in Bukit Brown Cemetery, Singapore, during Qingming Festival. There is a shrine to the Earth Deity (土地公 Tǔ Dì Gōng), also known as 后土 (Hòu Tǔ; "Backing of the Land"), on the left of the gravestone. Photo by wikipedia User:Jacklee.
Thursday 4 April 2002 was a very busy day. It was Children's Day, Tomb-Sweeping day, and the Death of President Chiang Kai Shek Day.

According to Wikipedia: "The Qingming or Ching Ming Festival, also known as Tomb-Sweeping Day in English, is a traditional Chinese festival on the first day of the fifth solar term of the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar. This makes it the 15th day after the Spring Equinox, either 4 or 5 April in a given year. ...

"Qingming has been regularly observed as a statutory public holiday in China. In Taiwan, the public holiday is now always observed on 5 April to honor the death of Chiang Kai-shek on that day in 1975. It became a public holiday in mainland China in 2008."

My diary says it's celebrated in Taiwan on the 4th April, but Wikipedia is probably right about it being the 5th.

I know it's unworthy of me, but I can't help but imagine a "bizarro-world" in which the festival of Tomb-Messing Day is celebrated. On that day, everyone has to go to the nearest tomb and mess it up -- throw garbage at it, or dead leaves, or evil sandwiches. It's also known as "Disrespecting Your Ancestors Day".


mgeorge said...

In Madagascar/Malagasy they have a more thorough version of this. A few years after death, they dig up and clean the bones. From then on, they do some rituals every year with these bones at the grave or tomb.

masterymistery said...

Hi mgeorge, It's tempting to ridicule rituals, and many people find the rituals of cultures other than their own to be idiosyncratic if not silly if not laughable. But no matter how apparently silly, there's usually a complex pattern of sometimes profound thought underlying the ritual. In my view.
Thanks for your comment.