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HK128

Ching Ming and Chung Yeung festival customs?

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HK128

Hi

 

I'm new here so please forgive me if I'm posting in the wrong section.

 

I suppose it's not something that's talked about too often, but if you don't ask, you won't learn!

 

I would like to seek advice for general do's and don'ts  in relation to these festivals, from the standpoint of someone who don't practice 'bai sun'  at home.

 

For example, would I be able to bring into the home (once purchased or unused) items such as joss sticks, joss paper etc.?  Also, on return from the cemetery, would we need to stride over a burning flame (usually red envelopes?) before re-entering the home?  Or is this for returning from funerals?

 

 

Thanks

 

 

 

 

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HK128

I guess it's not a topic that people wish to discuss or provide advice on?

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889

Don't be discouraged. It's a very good question.

 

Many visit here only once in a while and scan just the recent posts. So you need to post a "reply" sometimes to bring your thread back to the top again where it can be easily seen.

 

Like you just did.

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edelweis

I am interested in the topic but I have zero knowledge about it, sorry.

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陳德聰

I think the answers to your questions will depend heavily on who this is for and where you are located.

 

I can only guess from your use of “bai sun”* that you are living in the Chinese diaspora somewhere where there may be a large Cantonese population? But your reference to “Chung Yeung” 重陽節 makes me think maybe you’ve just moved to Hong Kong (does anyone celebrate this still outside of Hong Kong???).

 

*I used to refer to this as 拜山 (baai saan) without any mention of 清明 (ching ming) and I remember my friend from Shanxi (also grew up in same city outside of China with me) suspecting it was not a word so I sort of assumed that this is a Cantosphere term.

 

How superstitious are you? If you’re very superstitious, absolutely 入門前過火 (pass over a fire before going back in to your home). I did not think it needed to be red envelopes, that seems kind of bizarre to me as burning red envelopes sounds like a really inauspicious thing to do.

 

But there are other ways that people “cleanse” to avoid inviting bad spirits into the home after tomb sweeping: clean your shoes so there’s no graveyard dirt, carry some special leaves (I don’t know much about this one cause I always thought it was silly) and then throw them away from you before you get home... I’m sure there must be others. In reality, I haven’t stepped over an open flame after 拜山 in like 15+ years.

 

As for keeping joss sticks and fake money in the home... Joss sticks are for more than just going to the cemetery. Other than the dust getting everywhere, I don’t see anything wrong with keeping them in the home. If you’re superstitious, you should be burning them for your household god or whatever anyway, no? The fake money, I mean you could even burn it at your house if you wanted.

 

The huge taboos are more like “don’t step on anyone’s grave” and “don’t talk smack about the dead” and “don’t eat the food”. But it seems like lots of people eat the food offerings now, which I never understood.

 

From a ritualistic perspective, that just seems extremely rude. Obviously from a practical perspective, who wants to waste good food?

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HK128

Thanks for your replies everyone.

 

@陳德聰

 

We're cantonese based in the UK.  I agree with your thoughts on the burning of red envelopes (It's what I'm sure I was told).  And also agree on your thoughts on food (we eat ours as it's supposedly seen as sharing the offerings).

 

We don't bai sun at home, but we do baai saan for Ching Ming and Cheung Yeung.

 

Some say we should frequent the cemetry too often, so we do not even attend on birthdays or deceased date - is this bad?

 

 

 

 

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陳德聰

@HK128 Depends who you're trying to impress. The ancestors or nosy neighbours? I also don't 拜神 at home (it took me a triple take after reading your reply to realise what 'bai sun' was), so you can ignore my comments re: household god "or whatever". And for burning red envelopes... I really can't see any good reason to burn them instead of literally anything else. You could use the fake paper money, you could use pomelo leaves (never done this, just heard of it), some kindling, really just about anything else. I've met people in the motherland who just douse a log in lighter fluid and set that on fire in a 盆 so I'd say there's not much of a rule here.

 

I don't go to the cemetery for 重陽節 'Chung yeung jeet' and I don't think I ever have in my life so you're already "winning" if you're going during that festival (9th month 9th day right?). In fact I didn't actually make a connection between 拜山 'baai saan' and this festival until I looked it up and found out lots of people in HK apparently do so. I have a stronger association with chrysanthemums for this festival probably because a similar festival is observed by some Japanese people and there are some people in the Japanese community here whose families were able to return after internment.

 

I don't go to the cemetery on birthdays of the deceased.

 

I go to the cemetery on the anniversary of my ancestor's death, but only for closer ancestors that I actually met in my lifetime. So far that's just been my grandfather and next year I'll have to add my recently deceased great-grandmother. These death-anniversaries are 忌日/忌辰 'gei yut' / 'gei sun' and I feel like it might get hard to keep track of them, but I also feel a bit uncomfortable making a memo on my cellphone and calling the list 忌日 with a bunch of names and death-anniversaries so *shrug*.

 

I think if you are going at least once a year, you are doing just fine. But I also wouldn't think it fair for anyone to tsk tsk at you even if you didn't go at all. To me this is something deeply, deeply personal, and is between me and my ancestors, so if anyone tried to tell me I was doing it too often, I would probably tell them to back off. For the last five years I have been at the cemetery about 3 times a year: once for 清明 'Ching ming', once for my grandfather's death-iversary, and once for a very dear friend.

 

I only burn offerings at 清明 'Ching ming' which no longer involves food because we were in the non-eating camp and felt that it was a bit of a waste. To cope with how crappy it feels to not provide food for my ancestors I have started borrowing a tradition from elsewhere in China to put out an extra place setting of food for them during Chinese New Year. On my grandfather's death-iversary, unfortunately he just gets incense and maybe flowers. My friend just gets incense and maybe this year I'll smoke a joint for him.

 

More "taboos" I just thought of:

- don't take selfies at the cemetery

- don't bring along super young children / pregnant women

- don't plan your wedding any time around then

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Flickserve

I don't see red envelopes (like the type you put money in)  being burnt here in HK. There red papers and yellow papers folded up with writing that get burnt. Paper money as well. Wax candle are placed in front of the the alter or grave and burnt, joss sticks burnt. We place the food and also some teacups plus tea (from a flask) in front of the alter or grave. Usually, we use up all the joss sticks. You light a lot of them, share them out amongst family members, do your prayers while holding them, each member of the family put three in the front ash pot, three on either side of the alter, prayer again and stick the rest in the front ash pot. 

 

Some don'ts are for a couple, don't go when pregnant, within a year of birth of child and the wedding. The other family members can go. 

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HK128

Hi 陳德聰 and Flickserve - thanks for your thoughts and taking the time to reply.

 

I hope you don't mind if I sask further questions when I gather my thoughts.

 

Thanks

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陳德聰

Not at all! :)

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