The imperial tombs of China are only enormous and monumental expressions of beliefs and practices about the dead that are common to all Chinese. The Chinese, like other peoples around the world, venerate ancestors. The dead may be out of sight, but never out of mind, and never considered to be very far away.
The Qingming Festival (“Clear Bright Festival” or “Tomb Sweeping Festival”) is an annual spring holiday to remember the dead. Families visit their ancestral tombs, clean them, offer tea, food, joss sticks, and paper offerings to the dead at the tomb, and then eat the offered food nearby. I would imagine like all family gatherings, Qingming is an occasion for happy reunions and hard feelings. It is mostly an occasion to remember and to venerate the departed.
The People’s Republic only recently restored Qingming as a public holiday. Mao forbade it in a 1949 decree. During the Cultural Revolution, the Party forbade any funerary observance as part of its war with traditional Chinese culture. The dead were quietly removed from hospitals or houses without any observance, and hauled in the back of a truck (or the backs of specially modified bicycles) to a crematorium to be disposed of quietly and efficiently.
Chinese Día de los Muertos!
Good call, BillyD!
...without the tequilla, and with tea.
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