My Tomb Sweeping Holiday Plans

Today is a holiday, Qing Ming Jie, or Tombsweeping Festival.

Many families for the next 3 days will be traveling to the countryside to visit grave sites of family members.  They’ll clean the area, place incense and offerings of fruit or drinks to their loved ones, decorate the mounds with tissue-papered flags and set off firecrackers.

This tradition, April 5, used to be just that: a tradition.

Now, it’s a holiday with April 5 the official day off and April 6 added to extend to a 3-day “holiday”.  I say “holiday” because government offices and schools are required to make up the Friday (the unofficial holiday) on Sunday.  Thus no church for me this weekend since my Friday classes have been moved to Sunday.

After all these years in China, I still don’t quite get the “We have a 3-day holiday!” when, actually, it’s no holiday at all.  At our school, we are also required to make up the official holiday as well.  We do that on our own time, scheduling our classes whenever we can.

Defeats the purpose of having a holiday, in my opinion, but nothing much I can do about it.

Our weather at present is rainy.  After our sweltering, 80-degree heat with roasting sunshine these past few days, we have now turned dreary and dark and wet.  Not sure how many families will be traipsing along muddy pathways, wading through weeds and muck to get to those countryside graves.  At least, not today, anyway.

A Visit to Tong Tan on Saturday


A visit to my friends’, Chen and Che

My holiday plans are to visit a farming family, Chen and Che, on Saturday if the weather clears up. I have mentioned them before in previous posts.  The family adopted an abandoned dog on my campus, which I had been trying to find a home for.  This was 3 years ago.  SP (Stairwell Puppy) now has a wonderful life in the countryside, enjoying plenty of freedom as a rural canine.

In exchange for this kind gesture to take in a dog, I have gathered together a few people, including my mom and myself, to make sure the couple’s 14-year-old daughter gets through school, from high school to college, if necessary. The family is extremely poor and having trouble making ends meet. I feel so grateful several of us are working together to help them in this manner.

Below are a few pictures from my last visit, taken with a former student, “Angel” Zhang. Mrs. Chen’s mother, 84, was also visiting at that time and so was the girl, “Julie”.  Usually, she is boarding at school in Luzhou (2 hours away) but for that particular weekend, she returned home to visit.


Me, Angel (former student) and Julie (Che Liangyu)


SP. A happy life in the countryside.

Julie and her grandma, at her home.


Angel hears the story of living in China 80 years ago: a hard, bitter life of hunger and poverty in rural China


SP, always by my side on every visit I make to the family

The new addition to the home, built  5 years ago, still has the family in debt.

This is the sod house which they lived in for 22 years. Now this is used as storage.

Mrs. Chen picks cabbages to send home with me.

Every visit, Mrs. Chen makes sure we get a home-cooked meal. Here she is with her husband, Che, and Angel

The outer sitting room of the new home is spacious and very typical of the new-style of housing for farmers.

The kitchen is still traditional: kindling is used to stoke the fire for stir-frying meals.

Chen and Che: A hard life, struggling to make ends meet and pay off debts by selling vegetables or getting nearby construction jobs.


Chen, Che, SP and me: Saying farewell until my next visit

Until next report, here’s wishing you Ping An (peace) for your day.



About connieinchina

I have been in the Asia region for 30 years as an English language teacher. 28 of those have been spent with the Amity Foundation, a Chinese NGO that works in all areas of development for the Chinese people. Amity teachers are placed at small colleges throughout China as instructors of English language majors in the education field. In other words, my students will one day be English teachers themselves in their small villages or towns once they graduate. Currently, this is my 13th year in Luzhou Vocational and Technical College. The college is located in Luzhou city (loo-joe), Sichuan Province, a metropolis of 5 million people located next to the Yangtze River .
This entry was posted in From Along the Yangtze, Tales from The Yangtze River, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to My Tomb Sweeping Holiday Plans

  1. Kate Lindsay says:

    Hi, Connie…..learned a new name for Tomb Sweeping Day today, Pure Brightness Day. A Chinese teaching colleague in Fuyang wrote today to tell me about his holiday. Have you heard this term used? Enjoyed your photos to the countryside. SP looks like a happy dog. Our Miss Gracie (Border Collie/Lab mix) is at dog camp for a month. She went on Monday and we visited the first time today for about 1/2 an hour. She seems to be adjusting and learning some better people skills. Today she sat once on her own. We’ll go again on Saturday. Miss Emmie will go only for 2 weeks after Gracie. Vic and family are coming home – Vic will start at Sweet Briar College in VA on July 1 as Director of Student Life. We are, of course, very excited to know that they are going to be closer…..rather than 14 hours by air….only a long 2 day drive. 45 is at it again…..Nat’l Guard on the border and tariffs….OH pig farmers are not so excited. Wishing you a good end of term. Kare

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