People at their relatives tombs
Today is Tomb Sweeping Day in the Chinese culture. That means that it is a public holiday, so no teaching for Nic and I today. It has been really nice to have a whole Saturday off. Usually we both work on Saturday mornings. This morning I cleaned our whole apartment down... (which is really easy and takes about an hour since it's a one bedroom studio!) and then made pancakes.. which were a great success! For some reason, every time I have tried to make pancakes here they have stuck to the pan and it's become a big mess. I have tried and tried and tried again.. and today, the effort paid off with beautiful, fluffy pancakes! I am feeling much better today after visiting the doctor yesterday and taking the medicine he gave me. I only have a "common cold" but here they give you lots of medicine - 5 pills, 3 times a day! It really helps and I have a lot of energy back now! Nic went for a 10k run today! He was out there for a good hour but is enjoying the free time to exercise. I have been on a "running hiatus" the past few weeks due to getting back into school work after being in Bermuda, then getting the flu, and now this cold... but by next week I'll be back at it.
Now on to Tomb Sweeping Day. I asked my students what they thought about Tomb Sweeping - those who participate in the traditions of visiting relatives tombs didn't seem thrilled about it. They said it's a long day as they have to wake up early and go to many different locations to cover all of the tombs.
Here is a description from Wikipedia: "For the Chinese, it is a day to remember and honor one's ancestors at grave sites. Young and old pray before the ancestors, sweep the tombs and offer food, tea, wine, chopsticks, (joss) paper accessories, and/or libation to the ancestors. The rites are very important to most Chinese and especially farmers. Some people carry willow branches with them on Qingming, or put willow branches on their gates and/or front doors. They think that willow branches help ward off the evil ghosts that wander on Qingming. Also on Qingming, people go on family outings, start the spring plowing, sing, dance, and Qingming is a time where young couples start courting. Another popular thing to do is fly kites (in shapes of animals, or characters from Chinese opera)."
Ancestor worship is a big part of the culture here and we are learning more and more about the details of that as we are here.