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Ching Ming Festival is an important part of Chinese tradition originating from the Tang dynasty. It falls on the fifteenth day after the Spring Equinox, and this year, it takes place on 5 April. On this day, people honour their ancestors by travelling to their final resting place, cleaning up the burial site, and burning incense and paper offerings for the dearly departed to enjoy in the afterlife. Flowers, food, and drink offerings are also placed on graves. This practice is a continuation of showing filial piety, an integral cultural tenet of Chinese society.
Traditionally, paper money is the offering of choice, but that has changed with the times. Over the years, offerings have become increasingly aspirational and personalised: sports cars, luxury yachts, electronic appliances, whole mansions, and designer goods, all made of paper, of course.
Mass-produced paper offerings are now widely available, but there are still master artisans that go through the laborious process of handmaking these crafts, thus preserving a precious piece of our history. Here are some of the most creative iterations we’ve seen:
Let the ancestors get together for a good ol’ hot pot gathering.
Start their days off right with crisp, delicious egg tarts. With the OG cookie crusts, of course.
Let’s hope there aren’t any rules in the afterlife against enjoying the pungent perfume of the durian.
A bit of French indulgence for the dessert connoisseur.
Treat them to raw oysters, octopus, salmon, and more.
And if you can get your hands on the snow-skin kind with custard filling, even better.
Looks better than some of the birthday cakes we’ve had, to be honest.
Now these joss paper designs are getting pretty creative...
Is that a taro pie?!
Gotta keep up Sunday dim sum traditions.
May the ancestors self-pick a hand of Thirteen Orphans every single round.
Make Happy Wednesdays available seven days of the week for their enjoyment.
For when the ancestors need a break from playing mahjong.
Send the ancestors a friendly canine to keep them company.
Well, the puppy needs to be fed, right?
To keep their clothes nicely pressed and looking fresh.
For times when they’re not quite happy with the clothing selection you’ve sent them and need to make alterations.
To heat up leftovers from the Ching Ming Festival feast.
Not gonna lie, it looks incredibly comfortable and relaxing.
Hot water, all day, every day, for the rest of the afterlife.
Especially the kind that comes with twelve different functions, including making congee.
Let the good tunes roll. Who will be the first to belt out Beyond’s timeless Boundless Oceans, Vast Skies?
Might it come with Animal Crossing: New Horizons, we wonder?
Just keep fishing, fishing, fishing...
For teeing off with the boys on an eighteen-hole course.
For a bit of activity and staying limber.
May the afterlife be filled with the beautiful melodies of Mozart and Chopin.
Perhaps a duet of the East and West?
Another step closer to making it a full orchestra.
For the ancestors to brew their pu-erh tea just the way they like it.
What afterlife household would be complete without Tiger Balm and White Flower oil?
Can’t forget the omega-3 fish oil pills!
Keeps them looking fabulous and smelling incredible.
So they can keep flashing them pearly whites.
How else will they travel the world or visit relatives and friends?
Actually not entirely sure why they would need this.
In case they go spelunking and need to blast open rocks for hidden treasure...?
We hope it’s the Japanese kind with the amazing pre-made onigiri and bento boxes!
To cash in all of the joss paper money offerings they’ve received over the years.
So the ancestors have a place to go swipe plastic and splash cash.
Living the high life in the afterlife.