#WeekendCoffeeShare: Chinese Memorial Week


If we were having coffee, I would tell you good morning and thanks for joining me for another weekly chat. I would tell you next week will be my final week in China and I’m excited. I’m excited to no longer feel hot and sticky. It’s only in the low-80’s but with 70-80% humidity, I’m drenched in sweat all the time. You’ll probably wonder if I’m drenched in sweat, then I’m probably skinnier now than when I first arrived.

The answer is no. In fact, shamefully to say, I gained 4 pounds. 😦 . It’ll take me forever to lose those 4 pounds as it is immensely difficult for me to lose weight. I’ll have to put myself on a strict regimen of fruit and protein shake diet as well as work out daily. But working out is boring. I’ll have to think of creative ways to get my workouts done.

I feel so out of control. How did it get this way? Didn’t I remind myself before every meal to be mindful? To eat slowly? To look for signs I’ve had enough? Didn’t I promise myself I’m not going to overeat? Ever?! *sigh*

Credit: Google

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I paid my dad a visit yesterday. This week, starting the 4th of April, is Chinese Memorial Day (清明). It’s traditional for families to pack roast pig, fire crackers, gold, silver, and fake money to the cemetery to pay a visit to the dead. Cemeteries in China aren’t like the one in the U.S. All the graves are cluttered together and are organized in rows up the mountain.

I visited the grave with my aunt, cousin and his mom. My cousin’s mom bought a small roast pig as well as rice, tea, wine, eggs, chicken, duck, fish, cake as well as paper clothes and fake money while my aunt bought some fruit and flowers.

My aunt parked the car at the bottom of the mountain and with my cousin carrying the heavy things, we climbed 29 rows to reach my dad’s grave. Looking at his picture immediately brought tears to my eyes. So I quietly whispered, “I missed you, dad,” and began helping my cousin and his mom set up the food and drink.

Meanwhile, the occasional firing of firecracker startled me. It sounded like a dozen canons going off.

After serving some tea and wine to my dad, we talked or rather I talked in English since I can’t express myself well in Chinese. I somehow knew that wherever he is, he can understand whether I speak to him in Chinese or in English.

Then it’s onto the burning portion of the ritual. Gold, silver, clothes, money, and other accessories were tossed into the pyre, in hopes it’ll make it to wherever he is. All paper of course. It was curious though how the paper money read “Hell Bank Note.” Wait does that mean it’s going to…

I don’t want to know.

After lunch, we went home where I scrubbed myself clean from head to toe (even my face) to get rid of the ashes that had landed on me during the burning ceremonies (we did the same thing at my uncle’s grave). It’s an amazing feeling coming out of the shower no longer feeling like my skin is sticking to my clothes.

Today, I’m going to pay my grandpa a visit. He’s a little more complicated. He doesn’t have a grave. His ashes are stored in a kind of a temporary facility, for those who can’t afford a grave. My grandma told me she doesn’t have enough money to give grandpa a proper burial but my cousin’s mom said otherwise.

Since it’s 14 hours ahead here in China and I’m still publishing this post under Mountain Standard Time, I will probably be back very soon if I’m not back already.

Lastly, if we were having coffee, I would thank you for joining me and hope to chat again next week which it’s the last weekend in China.

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22 thoughts on “#WeekendCoffeeShare: Chinese Memorial Week

  1. Thanks you for the information on the Chinese burial customs. I had never thought about this factor. It sounds very similar to the Mexican Day of the Dead. Looking forward to your last post from China. Good luck on your journey home.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like the funeral ritual of visiting dead relatives in the levelled cemeteries . It doesn’t sound fun climbing up but I like the thought behind it. It’s the living who need reminders of those theymiss and having a meal with your family is a nice thing. Hope you get to see Grandpa, I wonder why Grandmawont have his remains moved, if that’s the case?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sure my grandma wants a proper grave for grandpa but in China, once you purchase a grave, you have to pay a certain amount of fee every decade or so to make sure your space isn’t sold to another. It’s difficult to keep up with this kind of bill with no one to remind you and I think my grandma probably feel her daughters aren’t responsible enough to handle it.
      I indeed got to see him yesterday and we performed the whole ritual, the food, the burning, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you Yinglan for taking us with you to visit your Dad and I’m sorry for your loss.
    You are on such a poignant journey, which reminds me somewhat of our trip to Tasmania. We also visited the cemetery where my husband’s parents, grandparents and even great grandparents were buried. We really enjoyed the more relaxing lifestyle in Tassie and the food was also sensational. I’ve lost a noticeable amount of weight since coming home.
    Enjoy the rest of your time there.
    xx Rowena

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am way into my ancestors, but they are all Euros. I would be eating like crazy if i were you and had that chance…not to worry, you can deal with it when the visit is over. Thanks for taking us on the cool trip to China.

    Liked by 1 person

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