Taboos & Questions about Qingming Festival

Taboos & Questions about Qingming Festival

In the Qingming Festival, when people sweep tombs to show respect for their ancestors and the deceased, there are a lot of traditional taboos to take note of.

1. Why is sacrifice referred to as worshiping mountains on Tomb-Sweeping Day?

Worshiping mountains in the festival refers to tomb sweeping because most of the graves are on the mountains in southern China. Actually, the practice of worshiping mountains is the same as visiting graves in northern China.

2. Do all of the Chinese ethnic groups sweep tombs during the Qingming Festival?

The Qingming Festival is a significant festival. There are about 25 ethnic groups which observe the Qingming Festival in China, but the ways of sacrifice and the local customs are diverse.

3. How do Chinese people sweep tombs?

According to the traditional custom, the first step of visiting a grave is cleaning the tomb; and putting some homemade dishes and flowers in the front of the tomb. Secondly, add some fresh soil, and burn incense along with paper money. Lastly, knee down or bow toward the grave.

4. Is it better to sweep a tomb as early as possible?

No, generally, people visit graves anytime from 7:00 to 16:00.

5. Could people perform the sacrifice at home?

Sacrifices in the Qingming Festival are usually performed in the graveyard, but if for some reason, people cannot come back to their home town, then they set up an altar on the balcony or in the hall where they are, looking toward the direction of their hometown to burn incense.

6. What types of flowers are appropriate for sending to the deceased?

Flowers are a visual expression of love and respect. They are a means to reminiscence about the deceased. White chrysanthemums are generally used to express lamentation, and grief is demonstrated with lilies and carnations.

7. Should mourners go on a fast before visiting a grave?

It is better to keep a fast and dress decently to express respect.

8. Don’t take photos in the graveyard.

It is believed that taking the photograph of mourners or tombs will bring misfortune.

9. Spring outings are a popular activity, but please don’t climb the mountain where a lot of tombs are located and say something unlucky. Especially pay attention to activities at night.

10. What color clothes do mourners wear?

Wearing red or green and other colorful clothes is strictly taboo during the tomb sweeping. Dark colors are recommended.

11. Is it OK to accompany a friend to visit their family’s grave?

Some people may get into a situation where they have to accompany their friend to visit the grave. It is better to keep some lucky items to ward off evil, such as a walnut bracelet and something jade.

12. Do not buy shoes during the Qingming Festival.

The pronunciation of the word shoes in Chinese is a homophone with ‘evil’, so that Chinese people never buy shoes on that day.

By Shirley Li
Web Editor