Last two nights I called my parents in China and couldn’t reach them at home. It was unusual. Wondering what happened, I called my brother’s cell and found out that they were out observing the Qingming Festival.
Oh, yes, this weekend is the traditional Qingming Festival in China. I totally forgot that.
Qingming means Clear Bright in Chinese. It’s a time for people to go outside and enjoy the greenery of springtime and tend to the graves of ancestors.
The Qingming Festival is known in English as Ancestors Day or Tomb Sweeping Day.
It is a day for people to remembering ancestors. People visit the graves of their ancestors. They worship their ancestors by cleaning and sweeping the graves, offering food and burning joss paper.
The Qingming Festival usually occurs around April 5. It has been regularly observed as a statutory public holiday in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau. In mainland China, its observance was reinstated as a public holiday in 2008, after having been previously suppressed by the ruling Communist Party in 1949.
So over the last weekend my parents with my uncles and aunts visited the graves of my grandparents and other relatives. They do this annually like millions of other Chinese do.
I remember when I was at school in China, I was very excited about the annual Qingming Festival. We didn’t have the day off, but it was a big field trip day for school kids. I wasn’t so much interested in visiting the graves of fallen war heroes, I was just interested in the field trip. We hardly had any field trips in school. Qingming was the field trip day of the year for me.
Now that I know Jesus as my Lord and Savior, the traditional Qingming Festival to worship ancestors doesn’t mean much to me. The graves contain nothing significant. They are empty. We come from the dust and return to dust. Only our spirits live on.
While we should remember our loved ones who have departed, we don’t need to worship them at their graves. Instead we should worship our God who created everything and gives us hope of eternal life. Someday I will meet my grandparents and other deceased relatives in heaven.
Today Christians around the world celebrate Easter and Jesus’ resurrection. His tomb is empty because he has risen. Christians do not worship the empty tomb, but the living God and the living Spirit.
My parents and other relatives in China do not believe in God or anything, but by observing the Qingming Festival, they do worship and believe in something in a way.