Tomb Sweeping Day

Last April I was in Taiwan during the QingMing Festival (清明節), which isn't so much a festival, but a holiday when people gather with family and visit the graves and shrines of ancestors, pay their respects and tend to the grave sites. You may perhaps have heard of Tomb Sweeping Day, which is what it is commonly called in English. If I recall correctly my family observed Qingming Festival at home when I was a child with food offerings placed before photos of my grandparents as a sort of homemade shrine. This was my first time observing it in Taiwan where it is a public holiday. I won't pretend to know much about the holiday since I've spent most of my life in the USA, but if you want to learn more about Qingming Festival, you know where to look.

My paternal grandparents are buried in a cemetery near Yangmingshan National Park, which is a lovely area known for its hot springs.

Burning spirit money for our ancestors and dieties

Some tombs have been emptied and abandoned for whatever reasons, and some haven't been looked after.

My maternal grandfather is interred at this mausoleum for veterans

A family preparing their shrine

incense and candles

This furnace used to be used to burn spirit money, but it's been sealed off probably due to air pollution concerns.

Lest I leave the impression that this holiday is morose and sad, it certainly can be, but more often it's a time to gather with family. It's also a time to celebrate the arrival of spring by spending time outside. Indeed, I got the impression for many it was something like a family reunion picnic at the cemetery to spend time with ancestors.