The Ching Ming Festival, also known as Tomb-Sweeping Day, is a time-honoured Chinese tradition rooted in the act of ancestor worship and honouring deceased loved ones. As a cemetery servicing full body burials and the interment of cremated remains for both the Fraser Valley and Metro Vancouver Region, Bakerview Memorial Cemetery understands the importance of preserving and honouring cultural heritage. To prepare for the Ching Ming Festival, it is crucial to acquire essential items needed for proper ancestor worship and observances. 

1. Cleaning Supplies for Tomb-Sweeping Rituals

Tomb-sweeping is an essential part of Ching Ming observances, where family members clean and maintain their ancestors’ gravesites. Items needed for this ritual include the following:

  • Brooms and brushes: To remove dirt and debris from the tombstone and surrounding area.
  • Buckets and water: For washing and cleansing the tombstone to restore its appearance.
  • Cleaning solutions: Mild, non-abrasive cleaners are suitable for tombstones, particularly when made of marble or granite.
  • Gloves and rags: To protect hands and assist with cleaning tasks.

2. Incense and Candles for Offerings

Burning incense and candles are common practices during Ching Ming, symbolising communication with ancestors and paying respect. Essential items in this category are the following:

  • Incense: Joss sticks or traditional Chinese incense for burning at the gravesite to pay homage to departed loved ones.
  • Candles: Candles, preferably white or red, are lit during Ching Ming to honour ancestors.
  • Incense and candle holders: Fireproof holders help to prevent fires and ensure a safe environment while conducting ancestor worship rituals.

3. Food and Beverage Offerings

Offering food and drinks to ancestors is considered an act of respect and gratitude. The essentials for this practice are the following:

  • Cooked dishes: Traditionally prepared dishes, such as steamed buns, rice balls, and dumplings, as well as personal favourites of deceased family members.
  • Fruits: Fresh fruits, such as oranges, apples, bananas, and peaches, are often offered to symbolise abundance and health.
  • Sweets: Offering sweets or treats, like sweet rice cakes, symbolises a sweet afterlife for ancestors.
  • Beverages: Drinks offered at the gravesite typically include tea, water, or alcohol, depending on the ancestors’ preferences.

4. Symbolic Offerings and Monetary Gifts

Paper offerings and symbolic items are burned during Ching Ming as a gesture of providing for the deceased in the afterlife. Key items in this category include the following:

  • Joss paper: Joss paper, also known as “ghost money” or “spirit money,” is burned to facilitate ancestors’ needs in the spirit world.
  • Paper replicas: Paper replicas of clothing, shoes, and other everyday items are burned as offerings for the deceased to use in the afterlife.
  • Luxuries: High-quality paper replicas of items such as cars, houses, or electronics are sometimes burned as a sign of respect and to ensure deceased family members have access to material comforts in their next life.

5. Flowers and Wreaths for Decoration

Flowers and wreaths are commonly used to adorn gravesites, symbolising respect, love, and the beauty of life. Items needed for this aspect of Ching Ming observances include the following:

  • Fresh flowers: Chrysanthemums are popular choices for Ching Ming, while other flowers may be chosen based on the deceased’s preferences or cultural significance.
  • Floral wreaths: Wreaths or floral arrangements may be displayed at the gravesite to honour deceased loved ones.
  • Flower vases: Vases for holding fresh flowers should be selected to complement the tombstone and surrounding area.

6. Ancestor Tablets and Photographs

Ancestor tablets and photographs serve as a focal point during Ching Ming rites, symbolising the deceased individuals being commemorated. Essential items for this purpose include the following:

  • Ancestor tablets: Wooden tablets inscribed with the names of deceased family members are placed on a family altar or at the gravesite during Ching Ming ceremonies.
  • Photographs: Framed photographs of the deceased provide a visual connection between the living and departed, promoting remembrance and respect.
  • Photo holders: Durable, weather-resistant holders for displaying photographs at the gravesite ensure lasting tribute to loved ones.

7. Prayer Materials for Sacred Observances

Ching Ming ceremonies typically involve prayers and recitations as a means of expressing devotion and respect for ancestors. Materials needed for these practices include the following:

  • Prayer books: Sacred texts or prayer books containing traditional Chinese prayers and chants, often specific to each family’s customs and traditions.
  • Buddhist or Taoist texts: For families who follow particular religious traditions, Buddhist or Taoist texts may be incorporated into Ching Ming rituals.
  • Family genealogy: A record of family history may be consulted during Ching Ming prayers as a way of commemorating and honouring ancestors.

By gathering these essential items and familiarising yourself with their roles in Ching Ming observances, you can prepare to meaningfully and respectfully participate in ancestor worship rituals, upholding the values and customs associated with this significant cultural event.

Preserving Cultural Heritage through Thoughtful Ching Ming Observances

By thoughtfully preparing for Ching Ming Festival and gathering the essential items needed for proper ancestor worship, we express our love and respect for our deceased loved ones and uphold cherished cultural traditions. As a cemetery servicing full body burials and the interment of cremated remains for both the Fraser Valley and Metro Vancouver Region, Bakerview Memorial Cemetery is dedicated to supporting cultural observances like Ching Ming and providing a dignified and peaceful resting place for your family members. 

Our knowledgeable and compassionate staff at Bakerview Memorial Cemetery are here to help you plan and organise graveside services during Ching Ming Festival and beyond. If you have any questions or require guidance regarding Ching Ming Festival practices or cemetery services, do not hesitate to contact us to ensure a respectful and memorable experience for you and your loved ones.


Published: April 21, 2024

Take the first step today

Plan ahead at Bakerview Memorial Cemetery