Willamette World News

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How the Chinese Honor the Memory of Deceased People

There are a lot of memorial and remembrance traditions to follow in China.  Different regions and different nationalities in China have their own customs. Losing relatives or friends is a very big thing in China. From the date we lose the person, we honor them in different ways.

The funeral ceremony is often complicated and follows lots of traditional rules.  To a certain degree, Chinese funeral rites and burial customs are determined by the age of the deceased, cause of death, status and position in society, and marital status.  Preparations for a funeral often begin before a death has occurred. When a person is on his/her deathbed, a coffin will often have already been ordered by the family. And  the clothes, hat and footwear all need to be ready. After the person has died, his or her sons and daughters have to tell all relatives and friends, and normally the relatives and friends will get ready for the funeral. Visitors usually bring the paper flower wreath and give money to the family (in some places family members give money to the visitors). The funeral ceremony traditionally lasts over 49 days — the first seven being the most important.  The number of ceremonies conducted depends on the financial situation and the time of the family members.

We usually bring meat, snacks, dessert, drinks and fruit to the grave on the anniversary of the deceased’s death or other important holidays. People burn paper money and anything they think the deceased person could use in the other world. So some will burn a paper house, some even burn a plastic iPhone4S for the deceased relative. There is a joke about this: A son was burning an iPhone4S model for his deceased father. His friend asked him:” Does your father know how to use it?” The child responded, “I already burned the instruction book. Besides, Jobs has already gone to that world. He can teach everyone in that world.”

In China we have a holiday for people to honor their deceased relatives and friends, which is called Tomb-Sweeping Day. The name comes from the custom of sweeping the tomb, in which way families remove weeds and waste around the grave.

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