In the past three days, people here in China had the luxury of enjoying a national public holiday. These three days in China were known as the ‘Qing Ming Festival’. With a distinguished history of over 2,500 years, the focus of this 3-day festival is for Chinese people to pay respects to their ancestors by going to their places of burial. Pronounced ‘Ching Ming’ festival, the occasion is not much of a celebration but rather a time to reflect on the life of the ancestors. Traditionally, people place a whole rooster at the tombstone, or a bouquet of flowers to show respect. The rooster symbolizes prosperity and life. However, in these modern times people prefer to place various kinds of items such as fresh fruit for example, and even place the items on the tombs that would represent something associated with their loved one (it can be anything). The festival is formally known as the ‘Sweeping Tomb’ festival because people use the occasion to ‘sweep clean’ the tombs of their loved ones, and then they may place some burning incense sticks as well.
Today (4th April 2012) was the last day of the public holiday period, and people used the occasion to go for family picnics, fly some kites (very popular in China!), or just take a rest from the hectic Chinese workstyle. As with any major holiday in China, all the parks, shopping malls, roads, and places of interest were jam packed for these 3 days because everyone only has this golden period to take a break away from work (in China most companies only offer a maximum of 10 working days annual leave so it’s a very limited opportunity for the locals to take a well deserved break).
Though still slightly chilly, the weather here in Suzhou is getting warmer (albeit slowly). Suzhou residents must be glad to know that thankfully the horrible bone chilling Siberian cold weather has disappeared from China's eastern region. With that in mind, it’s the perfect weather to ride my e-bike along the empty streets of Suzhou SIP.
Meanwhile on the other side of the world (in the U.K., U.S.A., and all other Christian countries), it's Easter. One holiday in this country gives way to another holiday in other countries. Just like Christmas and the Western New Year, Easter is not celebrated as a public holiday in China. However, that said I am sure I'll enjoy a few chocolate eggs available in the expat shops and think of home, sweet home :-)
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