History of Ching Ming
The phrase Ching Ming is linked to the Chinese tradition of ancestor worship, which many consider the original religion of China dating back over 2,500 years.
The practice of ancestor worship is based on three beliefs:
- That a person’s good or bad fortune is influenced by the souls of his or her ancestors
- That all departed ancestors have the same material needs they had when alive
- That the departed can assist their living relatives
Ching Ming is a major public festival that is generally treated as an official holiday in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Ching Ming Traditions
On Ching Ming (or Qing Ming), celebrants traditionally visit ancestral graves, where special rites are held and offerings are made in honor of ancestors. This event is held on the 106th day after winter solstice and usually occurs on April 4th or 5th. Traditionally in today’s world of working families, the trip to the
Cemetery will occur on the weekend before April 5th.
This event is related to the Chinese tradition of receiving blessings from previous generations when undertaking a new venture. Ching Ming unfolds in a picnic-like atmosphere and is observed as a time for happy communion with ancestors rather than a somber occasion.
Visiting the cemetery is referred to as “hang san” (walking the mountain). A series of activities; clearing the gravesite of dirt and debris, weeding around the site and repainting inscriptions on the gravestone are together referred to as “sweeping the grave”. Wine and a variety of foods may be placed around the gravesite as offerings to the spirit of the deceased. Eating the food that was offered to the deceased is considered good luck. Paper money is burned for use in the afterlife, candles are lit, and family members bow and kneel in respect. Many of today’s offerings may be simple, consisting of incense, paper money and flowers. Families may also set off firecrackers to drive evil spirits away from the gravesite.
For Chinese Immigrant communities, Ching Ming is observed as a traditional and cultural ritual rather than a religious practice. In the United States, Ching Ming is most commonly observed in San Francisco and Hawaii.
Wall of Honor
What if all your departed loved ones are overseas? How do you pass on this tradition of respect to future generations? We at Skylawn and Chapel of the Chimes Hayward have erected a special Wall of Honor, where you can come and place the names of your departed loved ones and carry on the Tradition of Ching Ming that has been a part of Chinese Culture for over 2,500 years.
For more information about this event, please give us a call at (510) 471-3363 or visit our website! If you would like to add your loved one's name to the Wall of Honor, please visit the Ching Ming 2012 link.