Tomb Sweeping Day – Qing Ming Jie

“Qing Ming Jie” is a time for families to come together to honor their deceased loved ones.  Qing Ming Jie (清明节), literally “Clear Bright Festival,” is also commonly known as “Tomb Sweeping Day.”

This holiday dates back centuries and is rooted in Chinese belief that the deceased must be looked after and cared for by their living relatives.  Thus, there is the need for a day set aside to honor and care for the dead.

Qing Ming Jie activities

On Tomb Sweeping Day, families venture out to the countryside to visit ancestral burial sites and then spend time enjoying the outdoors together.  They clean weeds, dirt, and debris from the tombs (hence, the name “Tomb Sweeping”).  They offer sacrifices of food to the ancestors, they kowtow (a bowing ritual) to show respect, and they burn paper money or paper versions of valuable items to send to their relatives in the afterlife.  Most believe that they must do these things in order for their ancestors to be at peace.

On the surface, Tomb Sweeping traditions might seem pretty benign, however, there is actually quite a contrast to the Biblical worldview.  In Revelation 21:4, John describes a new heaven and a new earth saying that “‘[God] will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  The picture that the Bible paints of heaven is one of peace and joy and the perfection of being in the eternal presence of God.  For many Chinese, the afterlife is simply an extension of this earthly life of pain, suffering, and need.

  • Please pray with us that the people of Hunan will come to know and experience the freedom that Christ offers, even freedom in death.  
  • Pray also for Hunan Christians who wrestle with finding the balance between showing respect to their families and removing themselves from the rituals of ancestor worship.
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