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

 

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