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Subanchor: Qingming Festival traditions


04-06-2014 03:39 BJT

Full coverage: Qingming Festival

Saturday is China’s Qingming Festival, also dubbed tomb-sweeping day. It’s the day Chinese people all over the world honor the deceased in their families and at the same time, go outdoors and enjoy the spring. Joining me now in the studio is CCTV’s Jin Yingqiao.

Q1, Yingqiao, walk us through some of the things that people do on this day?

A1, The Qingming Festival is a day both for mourning the dead and having some fun outdoors. That’s why I think "tomb-sweeping day" is not a good translation. We are seeing a major travel rush on this public holiday, with parks and tourist destinations packed with people. On this day, some people will put willow branches on their front doors. They believe that willow branches help ward off evil spirits. It’s also a time to plant trees. The sweet green rice ball is a food popular in Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces. It is also a must-have offering to the ancestors south of the Yangtze River. On this festival, a big part of the travel rush is of course people going back to their home towns to remember their forefathers. In the midst of this, mourning and burying the dead has become a multi-billion yuan industry. Here’s Hu Chao with more.

Q2, The idea of a "green burial" is becoming more and more popular these days. Is this also slowly becoming a need of the times?

A1, Chinese traditionally believe that souls can rest in peace only if their bodies are properly buried underground in a tomb. But the thing is, there’s not enough space. A recent government report says many provinces in China are likely to run out of cemetery space within 10 years. The shortages of graveyards are already hitting cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. In the capital, only a little over 30 percent of more than 85-thousand who died in 2010 were buried in official cemeteries. In the same year in Guangdong province, only 5.9 percent of the deceased were buried in such cemeteries. 80 percent of the land designated as burial ground in Shanghai has already been used, and the rest will be used up within the next six to seven years. The good news is that there ARE more people who are willing to choose a "green burial". For example, in Changchun city in Northeast China, in 2010, there were only 132 burials in the sea. In 2013, this number jumped to over 13 hundred.

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