Ching Ming Festival- Superstitions

Ching Ming Festival which is also known as the Tomb Sweeping day, is one of the of well respected festival

where the Chinese families sweep the tombs their deceased

relative of family  members.

This festival is alike christian’s All Souls Day.

 

Yesterday, we woke up at 5am in the morning, got ready, had a

light breakfast  and set off to the memorial park where my deceased

father-in-law was buried.

 

Upon reaching the park, there were many vehicles parked along the stretch  of the road, families bringing along little children,teens and

old folks visiting their beloved deceased family  members.

 

One thing particular about my in-laws family is; there weren’t

any school age  children nor teenagers to pay respect to their

belated grandfather.

 

Do you know why?

 

Funny superstitions which I could not believed in my ears.

 

It is compulsory for the sons of my father-in-laws

to perform tomb sweeping day  as  part  of the Chinese culture

and traditions.

 

In addition, the children of the sons are required to attend but

they would rather keep their children

including teens off the burial ground for superstitions belief.

 

My brother in laws and sister in laws believed that children are

advised not  to step onto the burial ground in order to keep

them  off “bad luck”

 

A memorial site is a place where the deceased are being buried which is  considered unlucky for children

to visit even to pay respect to their dearest grandparents.

 

Unlucky is the reasons but there are a few other reasons that

sums up :

 

  • Dirty place to step on
  • Unlucky to bring back bad luck home
  • Children might disturb the deceased spirits
  • Children couldn’t stand the scoreline heat under open air
  • Inconvenient for them to pee when required

 

 

Hence, since my father-in-law had passed away for the last few years, none  of his  grandchildren of his daughters and sons had ever  visited the memorial park on Ching Ming Festivals.

 

 

Fortunately, my hubby isn’t the superstition type of son.

Instead, he strongly encouraged my school age son and teenager daughter to visit their grandfather tomb, pay their respects

yearly.

 

 

In addition, he also asked me to come along even though I could not touch the  incense , joss sticks or

any prayer materials since I am a Christian.

 

He said that giving tons of excuses to exempt young children

from attending  Ching Ming is disloyal, inducing farther distance

of relationship between the deceased and the future

generations.

 

In the near future, our young generations may not attend Ching Ming festival  anymore after the big mistake that parents themselves

had embedded into their mind set.

 

Who then would pay respect to you when you passed away then?

Copyright allrights reserved and photos by peachpurple

Ching Ming Festival = Tomb Sweeping Day

April 2nd is Ching Ming Festival.

It is also known as the Tomb Sweeping Day which is similar to Christians All Souls Day.

burning joss sticks by pixabay
burning joss sticks by pixabay

This is a special event that all Chinese families.

It falls on the 3rd month of the Chinese Lunar calendar ( February is the 1st month where Chinese New Year was celebrated).

This is the day where my mother in law and her adult children plus grandchildren would visit our deceased father-in-law and grandparents in law at the cemeteries. ( 2 different locations )

 

the place where we can burn the effigies, money paper by peachpurple
the place where we can burn the effigies, money paper by peachpurple

 

Schedule practiced every Ching Ming

Wake up time: 6am

Reach at cemetery : 7am-7.30am

Prayer time: 8am 

Things to do: 

Everyone has to do a task for our ancestors.

  1. Tidy the headstones
  2. Remove the tall weeds and grass
  3. Light up the incense
  4. Burnt money paper
  5. Burnt effigies that resemble cars. clothes, necessities items,  motorbikes, cellphones, sandals, etc.
  6. While burning the money paper, we had to shout “huat ah !” which means “PROSPERITY”- help us to get rich
  7. Place real edible food in front of the tombstone in order to allow the deceased member to “consume” the food first as an honor and respect. ( had to wait at least 1 hour )
  8. Food displayed are steamed bao ( means to win ), roast pork or chicken ( means every meal we will have meaty food), dumplings ( to replace rice- means our rice bowl- source of income) and cakes or sweets ( means  happiness )
  9. After 1 hour, we had to pray to the deceased member starting from the eldest son/daughter, followed by the 2nd and 3rd, so on and so forth until the youngest grandchild.
  10. Each member had to hold 3 burning joss tick, clasp both hands together, kneel down and speak softly or in the heart, bow down 3 times.
  11. When everything is done, the food is shared among ourselves, either we can take the food home to heat up or consume there with ashes and dirt on the food we had prayed.
  12. Make sure all the trash are cleaned up before leaving the site.
heel money or money paper by peachpurple
heel money or money paper by peachpurple

 

Serving cold baos to our ancestors by peachpurple
Serving cold baos to our ancestors by peachpurple

The only disadvantage is the hot, steamy, weather. It is usually hot, dry and sweaty when the sun comes out at 8..30am in the morning.

By the time we finished the prayer and eating, it would be around 11am.

That is when my son gets very temperamental and shows tantrums. He can’t stand sweating under the hot sun.

I did tried to shelter him with a big umbrella but without any wind blowing, he sweats profusely.

Copyright allrights reserved and photos by peachpurple

Some photos by pixabay

 

Top Superstition Beliefs in the Ghost Festival

 

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Prayer food on the alter by peachpurple

 

Ghost Festival which is the 7th month of the Chinese lunar calendar falls in the month of August yearly.

This is one of the well respected festival that all Chinese descendants strongly believed that Ghost Festival should not be criticized or ridiculed.

It is believed that the hungry ghost ( ghost or spirit from the dead ) are released from the Gates of Hell during this time of the year.

For generations, Chinese families believed that hungry ghosts are wandering spirits that had encounter :

  • unjustified deaths ( accidents/ mishaps/ sacrifices ),
  • vengeance
  •  the deceased body wasn’t given a proper burial ritual or funeral
  • sudden deaths due to unexpected accidents
  • When the Gates of Hell are open, these hungry ghosts started to roam ( fly or whatever ) on our planet earth.

During this time, it is crucial and important for living humans to be careful because the spirits or ghost are hunting down for living humans to replace them, something like possessing into the body. Lots of superstition beliefs are practiced and obeyed religiously.

Although we had seen such thing happens in the movies but in reality, this superstitions did happened to the unfortunate people.

Here are the Don’ts that you should avoid:

  1. Don’ts sit in the front row. There are “Getai” or Opera Street Performance for the ghosts and people to watch. However, those red plastic chairs at the front row are supposed to be left vacant. Nobody should be seated because these seats are reserved for the ghosts to be seated, to watch the performance. Otherwise, you may see the ghost sitting next to you .
  2. Don’t touch , step or kick. Watch where you are going during the Ghost Festival. You may encounter temporary alters on the road side, under the trees, near the drain or on the grass. Never ever step, kick or touch those prayer items offered. These alters are placed there in order to appease and respect the wandering ghost. If you had accidentally step or kick the alter items, quickly say “sorry” to it. You wouldn’t want the ghost to follow you back home,right?
  3. Don’t look under the alter. Prayer alters which are put up at home or temples are meant for the ghosts to enjoy the food offered. Do not bend your head down, looking over your legs because you may “see” the angry ghost eating food. Nobody likes to be seen eating under the table, right?
  4. Don’t stay out or swim. Avoid late night outings especially when the dark night falls in. It is believed that you might “bump” into them. Do not swim at night because those ghosts who were drowned would pull you down too. That is why you don’t see Chinese people swimming at night.

There are many more superstitions which you may find funny or disbelieving but one should not ridicule , make a joke about these myths during the Ghost festival.

It is better to be safe than sorry.

That is what my mother in law and my mom used to say.

Better stay at home !

copyright allrights reserved and photos by peachpurple

Chinese New Year Tradition- 5 Things To Do

 

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Red packets for kids and unmarried adults by peachpurple
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Red decorations for fortune by peachpurple

 

Chinese New Year is one of the most celebrated festival among the Chinese community in the world.

 

It is also known as Spring Festival where the spring season enters into the new year with warm weather where everyone started to prepare for the upcoming festival.

In order to prepare welcoming Chinese New Year, our family members are always busy at least 1  month prior with shopping for items, food, cleaning and decorating our home with lucky charms.

 

These are the 5 things that we had to do in order to welcome Chinese New Year with auspicious wealth and health.

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Cleaning up with a pail of water by peachpurple
  1. Spring Cleaning
  • Chinese New Year starts on Feb 8th this year (the first lunar month of the Chinese Calendar, I don’t know anything about this!) and ends on the 15th day of the month which is known as “Chap Goh Meh”
  • It is compulsory to clean every corner of the house in order to sweep or wash away all the back luck from last year so that we could welcome “good luck” into out home.
  • Hence, we had to discard broken utensils,hardware items, torn clothes and under garments, replace dead plants with new bright plants, cleaning the windows, changing the curtains, bedsheets, sweeping and moping the floors for every bedrooms, living room, dining room, kitchen and even the toilets.
  • This is the time of the year where kids and teenagers became useful helpers around the household.
  • However, nobody is suppose to sweep the floor and not allowed to wash any laundry on Chinese New Year Eve and the next 3 days.
  • It is believed that the Fortune of God will be coming to our home on those days. So, don’t sweep away your luck!
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money by peachpurple

2) Pay Off Your Debts

  • According to Chinese beliefs, especially business men and employers, it is compulsory to settle company or personal debts which includes giving out salaries to employees and “Red Packets” to welcome good luck to their business. I always looked forward to this moment of the year!
  • In order to start the New Year, one has to have a “clean record” as debts are considered as bad luck. No debts for me!
  • Do not bear grudges with friends, family members and clients. This is the best time to shake hands, forgive and forget about the past. Psst!Just for this festival!
  • Most business related people would distribute boxes of oranges to clients because Mandarin oranges symbolize “gold ingots“. That means money and luck.
  • It is considered uncultured to receive and not give back Mandarin oranges. As if you are taking another person luck and wealth. My mom told me so!

 

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New Clothes in shopping malls by peachpurple

3) Buy New Clothes

  • I love shopping trips! Shopping for brand new clothes, under garments and shoes for the whole family.
  • Try to buy red , orange or yellow color clothes which symbolize gold and luck.
  • All shopping malls would offer Big discounts, free vouchers and free gifts to attract customers to purchase more.
  • Spending money with your salary and bonus always ends up here. Sigh!

 

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New hair cut by peachpurple

4) A New Hair Cut

  • This is the time where barber shops and hair dresser saloons are busy snipping off many heads.
  • Men, boys, women and girls patronize these places to give themselves a new hair cut which symbolize a new you, new life to welcome the New Year.
  • In addition, you have to pay a little more as the price hike up too. Daddy always complains that!
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Free Ang Pows by peachpurple

5) New Bank Notes

  • Local banks will be stocking up new currency notes for bank savers to exchange. For example; if you need $5 , $10, $50 bank notes ( money ), you are required to queue up at the special lanes, list out the amount and quantity you requested.

$5 x 100 pcs = prepare $500 in advance

No extra fees for this service on all banks. The biggest problem are: no parking space, long queues and no more stock of new bank notes. That is where customers temper flares up.

Hence, I always look out for those unpopular banks where the number of customers are low. Furthermore, I can get Ang Pow packets for FREE!!

 

Wishing all friends a Happy Chinese New Year!!

Gong Xi Fa Cai!!

Copyright all rights reserved by peachpurple

photos by peachpurple

 

 

Traditional Chinese Birthday : Red Eggs and Longevity Noodles

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In the olden days, Chinese families celebrate birthday without birthday cakes nor candles.

Every family of different religion has a traditional way to celebrate one’s birthday in a unique practice.

In my family, my dad always celebrates birthday in a Chinese traditional ways that my grandmother had taught him.

 

red-eggs

Birthday Food

  • Boil 2 hard boil eggs.
  • Simply dye the eggs into a bowl of red food coloring
  • Whip up a bowl of noodles or misua soup
  •  Red coloring as red powder mixed with 1/3 bowl of water.
  • Now, you can buy a small bottle of red food coloring to mix in jellies, beverages or cookies.
  1. Reasons for making Red Eggs

According to Chinese beliefs,

  • An egg is a symbol of birth.
  • 2 eggs comes in a pair which is even number.
  • That is considered a good luck.
  • Red is the auspicious color for every Chinese festivals on food or things.
  • Red symbolize good luck and fortune.
  • Red also signifies happiness as in Red packets (Ang Pow) and Fire crackers.
  • thread noodle.
  • My dad says that birthday person has to crack the egg shells and eat up both red eggs to be in luck.

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2) Reasons for whipping up noodles

  • Noodles comes in long strands.
  • No breaks in the strands signify longevity.
  • Misua is also known as mian xian, thin white fragile thread noodles made from flour.
  • Noodles symbolize longevity, the person who makes the noodle soup wishes the birthday person to have a long life until he/she reaches the age of 100 or more.
  • Since misua noodles are white in color, the birthday person who eats the noodle soup will live at a very long age with white hairs too.
  • I love my dad’s special recipe;  a bowl of Chicken flavored Misua Soup with Mustard Greens and Minced meat.

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3) Red Packets ( Ang Pow)

This is an optional practice.

The older folks in the household, be it the parents, married siblings or grandparents, would give the birthday person an Ang Pow which is the red packet as a symbol of fortune and wealth. Of course, money is wealth!

Red packets are only given to single, bachelor or spinster birthday person.

Nowadays, Red Packets are also given to older folk in the family who is celebrating his/her birthday in order to show the folk respect, filial and a token of appreciation.

Money is inserted into the Ang Pow which is in even numbers.

For example: $20, $28 $50, $88,  $100

8 symbolize luck while zeros symbolize even, unity or a new life.

If my dad has extra pocket money, he would give me $28 Red Packet on my birthday.

Although traditional Chinese birthday food are plain and boring, these food brought a lot of sweet memories as I grew older.

Question: How do you celebrate your birthday in traditional way?

Copyright all rights reserved by peachpurple

photos: peachpurple

 

 

 

Chinese Festival| Celebrating Dong Zhi

 

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colorful tang yuan soup

 

Dongzhi Festival 

Dongzhi Festival will be held on December 21 this year, sometimes it falls on the 21st or 22nd, depends on the Chinese lunar calendar.

Before the year ends, Dongzhi Festival is celebrated yearly in order to mark the season turning from winter to spring in the coming year.

Dongzhi Festival is also known as Winter Solstice Festival in western countries.

During the Han Dynasty, the people celebrates Dong Zhi by consuming warm tang yuan soup together as a family, warming up themselves in the cold winter season. 

Dongzhi means extremely cold winter. Hence, the ancient people would prepare hot warm meal such as dumplings with lamb meat to keep them warm and full.

Celebrating the Dongzhi Festival

During the Dongzhi Festival, Chinese families gather together at the eldest member of the household home to make Tang Yuan Soup. Then, each person will be served with one large Tang Yuan and several small Tang Yuan plus the sweet soup.

The large one indicates the person is a year older and to be a better person next year when the spring comes, which is Chinese New Year celebration.

 

 

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Glutinous rice flour by peachpurple

 

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You can replace castor sugar with brown sugar by peachpurple

How to make Tang Yuan

See Tang Yuan Recipe Here
Tang Yuan means round balls soup which symbolize unity ,harmony and reunion of a family. In order to make Tang Yuan, you will need glutinous rice flour, sugar, screwpine leaves ( also known as Pandan leaves ), food coloring which is optional and a big pot of water.
 
The female members of the household, young and old gather around to make this special sweet delicacy together. Some people would add sweet fillings into the Tang Yuan such as finely ground peanuts, sesame seeds, red bean paste or black bean paste for flavorful taste.
 

Ready made Tang Yuan

Nowadays, working adults are lazy to make homemade Tang Yuan at home. Hence, Tang Yuan are popularly sold in supermarket with different flavors and fillings to suit every consumer taste buds.

Each packet comes with 10 ready made small glutinous rice ball, very convenient and does not break easily when you boil in slow cooker.

Copyright all rights reserved by peachpurple

original drawn by peachpurple ( DO NOT use my drawing elsewhere!)

photo taken by peachpurple

Chinese Festival: Mid-Autumn Festival Mooncakes

Date: 27th September 2015

Day: Sunday

 

Yam Mooncake by peachpurple
Yam Mooncake by peachpurple

 

Today is the Mid Autumn Festival where you can see Chinese people purchasing moon cakes, pamelo fruits and lanterns .

Mid Autumn Festival is commonly known as Zhong Qiu Jie in Chinese language.

It is held yearly on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese lunar calendar which is September not August. ( Chinese lunar calendar is calculated one month later of the English calendar )

Currently, you may see lots of people window shopping around the streets, shops, shopping centers hunting for cheap mooncakes.

Mooncake used to be a compulsory food to be serve to guests and family members because the circle shape signified unity, enhance family bonding, clients relationship and harmony.

Mooncakes are sold in a wide variety flavors, ingredients content, shapes and sizes . The Chinese market is mushrooming and earning big profits on this special festival.

 

Mooncake with egg yolk by peachpurple
Mooncake with egg yolk by peachpurple

 

In the past, each mooncake cost RM4 but now, with the same flavor, reduced size and shape, it cost RM8 per piece of the regular red bean paste content.

Branded mooncakes with red bean paste cost RM16 per piece compare to non-brand RM4 where you can find in night markets.

For the past few weeks, I had been window shopping at Jusco and Tesco  Malls, very surprised of the huge crowd of people purchasing these expensive, sweet pastry (mooncakes) with fancy box packaging and colorful paper bags.

Majority of the customers were Singaporeans because they benefit due to the exchange rate of SGD$ 1 = RM 3.10

 

Hence RM16 = SGD $ 5.20 ( USD $ 3.64) per piece, which is extremely cheap for Singaporeans but not for us local people.

RM16 per piece of mooncake is an expensive price tag for a small pastry that one could finish up in 10 minutes.

You can see a wide range of mooncakes sold here:

 

Lotus seed paste filling is much cheaper by peachpurple
Lotus seed paste filling is much cheaper by peachpurple

 

Traditional fillings-

  • 5 kernel seeds and nuts (expensive)
  • Lotus seed paste
  • Mung bean paste
  • Red bean paste
  • Black bean paste
  • Salted Egg Yolk ( expensive )

Modern Fillings-

  • Coffee
  • Durian
  • Jellies
  • Ice-creams ( expensive )
  • Snow skin ( expensive )
  • Fruit and vegetables

Mooncakes are not compulsory to purchase but one who wanted to be recognized as “rich”, prosper and enhance his pride ( face), purchasing branded mooncakes is a trend right now.

If you can’t buy a single mooncake, your family members and friends would look down on you, a childish act among the Chinese tradition. This tradition always happen among my in-laws family members during yearly Mid-Autumn Festival.

The best part during the Mid Autumn Festival is the colorful lanterns where kids had the best time, fun and laughter, chasing each other , chatting happily under the bright moon.

Colorful lanterns made from color thin paper is the cheapest compare to plastic ones with battery operated lights.

The mooncake vendors are the ones who are making BIG profits during this time of the year, not the consumers.

Anyway, I don’t buy mooncakes but eat them for FREE whenever my in-laws invited us for a family gathering. They received a dozen of fancy mooncakes from friends, neighbors, family members. It is an act of exchange of gifts for them.

……………………………………………….

originally written by peachpurple

photo credits: peachpurple

Feature image photo: pixabay

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