Qingming Festival. The festival includes Tomb-Sweeping Day, where young and old alike visit the graves of their ancestors, to clean the graves, pray and present offerings.Thus, the festival is an opportunity for people to commemorate and honor their ancestors.
The festival also coincides with my dad's birthday, the first to pass since he passed away. We managed to turn that day of sadness into something a bit more celebratory by talking about the customs of Tomb Sweeping Day, especially the tradition of burning paper replicas of things the deceased might want in the afterlife -- like money, houses and even iPads! The girls remembered seeing people burning so-called "hell money" at Nanputou Temple (that's one of the furnaces there in the picture, above) when we were in Xiamen (and that served as the inspiration for our Mother's Day tradition of burning notes to their birth mothers).
We knew we couldn't actually burn anything (burn ban in Tarrant County!), but we came up with a list of things that we knew Grandpa would like. Our list of paper things to burn -- Reece's Peanut Butter Cups, shrimp, coffee, a perfectly made vodka martini, a TV showing a Cowboys football game, country music CDs, books (Zoe wanted it to be a Kindle, no pun intended!) and, of course, a picture of his favorite girls, Zoe and Maya. I wish I'd thought of it at the time, but I think now we should also burn a paper replica (or maybe even the thing itself!) of Grandpa's favorite recliner!
I hope you were also able to remember your lost loved ones, with joy rather than sadness, this week. Happy Qingming Festival!