Chinese tomb sweeping festival goes online due to COVID-19

The chinese festival of Quingming is a day each spring set out for tomb sweeping. The practice is an ancient tradition to honor one’s ancestors, and rejuvenate the grave space after the new year for the upcoming months ahead. 

The practice first started roughly 2,500 years ago amongst the cultural elite and the wealthy classes as a display of luxury and money. It started under the Zhou Dynasty and would be a chance for people to honor their ancestors with impressive sacrifices at their grave site. In return the ancestors were believed to be able to bring on a good harvest, as well as peace and prosperity for their descendents. 

Despite its ancient origins and ongoing popularity, the festival was only fully recognised by the Chinese government as a public holiday in 2008. It is common in these times for people from all over China, as well as neighbouring countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand amongst others to also celebrate the widely recognised Quingming Festival. 

The festival is usually held between the 4-6th April, on the first day of the fifth solar term in the year. Though usually it involves visiting older loved ones or gathering at the graves of the deceased, social distancing restrictions that persist due to the continuing coronavirus COVID-19 global pandemic mean that this year, more and more people are considering taking their celebrations online. 

As the pandemic was starting last year, a small number of people conducted their ceremonies online, and now as the crisis continues into a second year, it seems more people are once again considering their online options. 
As an alternative to visiting in person, families are now being offered ‘cloud tomb sweeping’ services by local governments. The service includes a live streaming of the tomb sweeping event on the government platform WeChat, that people can watch from the comfort and safety of their own homes.