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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in China Series at ChineseClass101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Chinese holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 7, Tomb Sweeping Day. In Chinese, it’s called 清明节 (qīngmíng jié).
Tomb Sweeping Day is on April 5th each year. It’s mainly for Chinese people to worship their ancestors, and is commonly known as the day of burning incense or 烧香 (shāoxiāng). The tradition is to sweep the tombs and graves. In April, spring has returned, flowers bloom, and the grass turns green. Therefore, Tomb Sweeping Day is also a day for people to go out.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question?
How many days can people take off for the Tomb Sweeping Festival?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Tomb Sweeping Day is a day to worship ancestors, or in Chinese 祭祖 (jìzǔ). Wealthy families will burn incense in front of their ancestors' tombs. Also, you will see many people burning joss paper along the streets. Joss paper or 冥币 (míng bì) is a kind of fake money made to be burned for the deceased, as people believe that their deceased ancestors need money in the underworld. In recent years, makers of joss paper have become particularly creative. You can see various new shapes such as paper beauties, paper houses, even paper Mahjong pieces. Joss paper versions of iPhones are also being sold these days because iPhones are so popular.
In China, there is a well-known saying: 红白喜事 (hóngbái xǐshì), which means “wear red or white.” “Red” refers to getting married and “white” means the passing away of relatives. Birth and death are important events in people's lives, especially in China, where family is greatly valued. In recent years, the “funeral industry” or 殡葬业 (bìnzàng yè) that sells wreaths, grave shrouds, and other related goods for sweeping tombs, has been frequently criticized as engaging in profiteering by the mass media.
Going out during the Tomb Sweeping Festival is a tradition. It is also called the Spring Outing. In April, with the return of spring, lively and vibrant scenes are everywhere, making it a great time for an outing. Flying kites is a popular activity during the Tomb Sweeping Festival. People fly kites both at night and during the day. The sorrow of missing loved ones who have passed and happiness from the outing is combined in this festival, making it very special.
There are many traditional taboos for the Tomb Sweeping Festival. For example, people should avoid fire, using needles, and washing clothes on that day; in most regions, women should avoid walking. However, people rarely observe these traditions in modern times.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question!
How many days can people take off for the Tomb Sweeping Festival?
People can take three days off for the Tomb Sweeping Festival. Unless it's Spring Festival, National Day, or Labor Day, people can only take one day off for national holidays in China. From this, you can see the importance of the Tomb Sweeping Festival.
What did you think of this lesson? Did you learn many interesting things?
How do you commemorate your ancestors in your country? Please leave a comment telling us at ChineseClass101.com, and I'll see you in our next class. Bye!