Graves on Fushan, Qingdao, China

Our friends were recently apartment shopping. All the best deals were near this local mountain. But the husband’s father wouldn’t let them buy near the mountain because it’s covered in graves.
qingdaofushangrave
In addition to the thousands of graves sprinkled all over the mountain, the local authorities have created a formal graveyard and erected communal areas for burning paper offerings to the ancestors, rather than have every family burn paper at each grave on the mountain. We pass multiple fire hazard signs every time we hike here. Tomb Sweeping Festival is next weekend.

Similar: A Fushan grave, one week after Tomb-Sweeping Day

A Fushan grave, one week after Tomb-Sweeping Day

Mountain grave mound
Mountain grave
Food and flower offerings were scattered all over the freshly swept grave mounds on Qingdao’s Fushan, one week after 清明节 (Tomb Sweeping Festival).

Graves on Qingdao’s Fushan

crowded mountain graves
Red firecracker debris litters the lumpy Fushan hillside crowded with grave mounds in Qingdao, China.

Civilized Ancestral Offerings
文明祭祀 “Civilizedly offer sacrifices to the ancestors” — The officially atheist communist government of China provides designated places to burn spirit money to the ancestors, hoping to reduce the risk of forest fire. Normally people burn offerings at the graves, which are scattered all over the mountainside.
Qingdao Fushan grave
Spirit money piles up over time, the newer offerings on top not yet bleached by the sun.

Easter (“Resurrection Festival” 复活 in Chinese) and Tomb Sweeping Day tend to coincide. More about both below:

Observing Tomb Sweeping traditions in Guilin, China

A guy goes with his wife’s family to 扫墓, or perform Tomb Sweeping Festival rituals at the family tomb. Lots of pictures, interesting information, and first-hand descriptions of the experience: 清明节 (Qingming Festival), paying respect to the ancestors.

(More about Tomb Sweeping Festival here.)

[Photo Gallery:] 2011 Tomb Sweeping Festival in Nankai, Tianjin, China

Here are some photos from around our neighbourhood during the Tomb Sweeping Festival 清明节 from the end of March to the beginning of April 2011 (blogged here). For more about the Tomb Sweeping Festival see:

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Tomb Sweeping Festival 清明节 2011 photos from Nankai, Tianjin, China

Here are some photos from around our neighbourhood in the days before Tomb Sweeping Festival 清明节 (April 5). Tomb Sweeping Festival is when Chinese traditionally honour their ancestors by tidying their graves and making offerings to them, mostly by burning spirit money (纸钱) and other paper offerings. See more photos in the Tomb Sweeping Festival 2011 photo gallery.

A family tradition. A family burns spirit money on the sidewalk outside our apartment complex:

Spirit money for sale on the corner nearest our apartment complex:

Spirit money (纸钱) is usually called “ghost money” or literally translated as “paper money”. This man is also in the following photo.

Piles of spirit money ash. Intersections are prime locations for sending burnt offerings to your ancestors:

Local media pooh-poohs on the practice of burning piles paper in public spaces and then leaving the ash to blow around. This neighbourhood notice board says:

“Civilizedly offer sacrifices and tidy the ancestral tombs,
safe and sound Tomb Sweeping Festival”

文明祭扫 平安清明

See more 2011 Tomb Sweeping Festival photos here.

More about Tomb Sweeping Festival:

Tomb Sweeping Day (清明节) 2010 in Tianjin

It’s Tomb Sweeping Day (清明节 / qīng míng jié), the time when families go maintain their ancestors’ graves and burn offerings to them. See the links at the bottom for more about Tomb Sweeping Day and the tradition of burning spirit money. These photos are from around our neighbourhood tonight.

According to one of our Chinese tutors, who has a law degree and teaches at Tianda for her day job, among Tianjin’s new April enforcement of previously unenforced laws (like spitting and bikes going through red lights) is a crackdown on street vendors. That includes the little wheelie carts selling spirit money and a surprising variety of other paper offerings.

Burning paper money in the street is not illegal, according to our tutor, but it is discouraged and in some cases grudgingly accommodated (see the propaganda posters in this post). Selling the spirit money, however, is illegal, and apparently they’ve had the obligatory news stories of vendors getting raided, etc.

If they stop letting bikes go through red lights (traffic has been noticeably changing) I’m going to be bummed. I have a couple language school buddies who’ve developed a whole set of terms a la CHiPS for essential bike rider maneuvers in Tianjin traffic. Looks like our days of no-rules, every-person-for-themselves, in-the-way-means-right-of-way bike riding might be numbered.

More about Tomb Sweeping Day and burning money in the road: