qingming qingming

Qingming Festival is commonly celebrated by Chinese people around the world. It is usually 15 days after the Spring Equinox and Chinese families come together to remember their deceased family members and close kin through ritual offerings.1

Families in Singapore visit the columbaria and temples, where ashes are kept or tablets are placed, more often than cemeteries due to the land scarcity for tomb burial. Visits like these can be done on the day of the festival, up to one or two weeks before.2
Even if you’re not religious, you may observe a moment of silence for the deceased as a sign of respect. Confused about the rituals required when commemorating your ancestors? Look at some examples of practices below!3

Info Sources:
title first offerings

In Singapore, it’s not uncommon to make the first offerings to the houtu before praying to ancestors. It’s a form of respect to the protector of the land that our ancestors’ tombstones sit on.

Info source: KL Professional Writing and Consultancy, Lee Kok Leong, 告别1949, p. 212-213

first offering
title food offerings

Food offerings, from meats such as chicken, duck, pork, and fish, as well as snacks like cakes, fruits, wine, and tea, are offered. However, families might prepare vegetarian offerings if they’re visiting a columbarium niche, or the temple altar. Descendants pay their respects by kneeling or bowing before the grave or tablet, usually holding lighted joss sticks with red candles being lit as well.

Consumption of Food Offerings
At the end of the visit, the food offerings are usually gathered up and taken home to be consumed by the family.

Info Source: Lin Decheng and Ng Say Yong, 我们的大日子 [Of Rites and Rituals] (Singapore: Mediacorp Studios, 2000)

title paper offerings

Mock money and paper gifts are burned to ensure that the ancestors have an abundance of material comforts in the afterlife. These paper offerings include replicas of items, such as clothing, accessories, houses, cars, servants, televisions, and mobile phones. It is also believed that the paper gifts must be labeled with the names of both the deceased and the descendants to ensure that their ancestors receive the items on the other side.

Info Source: Singapore Infopedia, Qing Ming Jie (All Souls’ Day)

title other practices

Teochew and Hokkien Sharing A Common Practice

The Teochew and Hokkien descendants traditionally place colored paper called ya zhi on the grave to indicate that the descendants have visited. The Teochews also eat cockles and throw their shells around the grave, which is seen as an indication of prosperity.

Info Source: Lin Decheng and Ng Say Yong, 我们的大日子 [Of Rites and Rituals] (Singapore: Mediacorp Studios, 2000)

Keen to learn the context of how Qingming Festival came about? Impress the older generations with the origins of this festival!

other practices
other practices
back to top