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42 weird & wacky joss paper offerings for Ching Ming Festival

By Nicole Hurip 4 April 2020

Ching Ming Festival, or Tomb Sweeping Day, 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 4 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.

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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:

1. Hot pot with all the fixings

Let the ancestors get together for a good ol’ hot pot gathering.

2. Egg tarts

Start their days off right with crisp, delicious egg tarts. With the OG cookie crusts, of course.

3. Durian

Let’s hope there aren’t any rules in the afterlife against enjoying the pungent perfume of the durian.

4. Macarons

A bit of French indulgence for the dessert connoisseur.

5. A sashimi platter

Treat them to raw oysters, octopus, salmon, and more.

6. Mooncakes

And if you can get your hands on the snow-skin kind with custard filling, even better. 

7. A birthday cake

Looks better than some of the birthday cakes we’ve had, to be honest.

8. A cha chaan teng set meal

Now these joss paper designs are getting pretty creative...

9. The best that KFC has to offer

Is that a taro pie?!

10. A selection of dim sum 

Gotta keep up Sunday dim sum traditions.

Keep scrolling for the rest of the list 👇

11. A mahjong set

May the ancestors self-pick a hand of Thirteen Orphans every single round.

12. An entire racecourse

Make Happy Wednesdays available seven days of the week for their enjoyment.

13. A Blackjack or sic bo (high-low) table

For when the ancestors need a break from playing mahjong.

14. A slot machine

Jackpot!

15. A dog in its kennel

Send the ancestors a friendly canine to keep them company.

16. Pet food

Well, the puppy needs to be fed, right?

17. An iron

To keep their clothes nicely pressed and looking fresh.

18. A sewing machine

For times when they’re not quite happy with the clothing selection you’ve sent them and need to make alterations.

19. A microwave

To heat up leftovers from the Ching Ming Festival feast.

20. A massage chair

Not gonna lie, it looks incredibly comfortable and relaxing.

Keep scrolling for the rest of the list 👇

21. An electric water boiler

Hot water, all day, every day, for the rest of the afterlife.

22. A rice cooker

Especially the kind that comes with twelve different functions, including making congee.

23. A stereo system, complete with a karaoke machine

Let the good tunes roll. Who will be the first to belt out Beyond’s timeless Boundless Oceans, Vast Skies?

24. A gaming system

Might it come with Animal Crossing: New Horizons, we wonder?

25. A fishing rod and tackle box

Just keep fishing, fishing, fishing...

26. A set of golf clubs

For teeing off with the boys on an eighteen-hole course.

27. A badminton racket

For a bit of activity and staying limber.

28. A piano

May the afterlife be filled with the beautiful melodies of Mozart and Chopin.

29. An er-hu (二胡)

Perhaps a duet of the East and West?

30. A violin

Another step closer to making it a full orchestra.

Keep scrolling for the rest of the list 👇

31. A Chinese tea-making set

For the ancestors to brew their pu-erh tea just the way they like it.

32. Chinese ointments and medicines

What afterlife household would be complete without Tiger Balm and White Flower oil?

33. An assortment of vitamins and supplements

Can’t forget the omega-3 fish oil pills!

34. A set of skincare products

Keeps them looking fabulous and smelling incredible.

35. A dental hygiene kit

So they can keep flashing them pearly whites.

36. A travel essentials kit with credit cards, bus and train passes, and passports

How else will they travel the world or visit relatives and friends?

37. Pistols

Actually not entirely sure why they would need this.

38. A dynamite bomb

In case they go spelunking and need to blast open rocks for hidden treasure...?

39. A 7-11 convenience store

We hope it’s the Japanese kind with the amazing pre-made onigiri and bento boxes!

40. A bank

To cash in all of the joss paper money offerings they’ve received over the years.

Keep scrolling for the rest of the list 👇

41. A shopping mall

So the ancestors have a place to go swipe plastic and splash cash.

42. A casino

Living the high life in the afterlife.

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Nicole Hurip

Travel editorial director

Never content with sitting still, Nicole has turned her passion into a career. Hong Kong is her home, but she’ll always have a soft spot for L.A. and London, where she spent her college years. She loves exploring hidden places, hunting for cool vintage pieces, and talking to interesting people. Her vices include consuming excessive amounts of wine and cheese, a debilitating weakness for sparkly things, and spending too much time on Instagram.

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