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How Tomb Sweeping Day was Different This Year in China Due to COVID-19

Apr. 14, 2020

Key Learning Points (Preview):

烧香 (Shāo xiāng):v. to burn joss sticks / incenses

预防措施 (Yù fáng cuò shī): n. preventive measures

鞠躬 (Jū gōng):v. tobow

云祭祀 (Yún jì sì): v. online Remembrance

Chinese General single

Qingming Festival Origin:

Qingming Festival is also known as Tomb-Sweeping day and is a traditional Chinese holiday. The day is on the fifth solar term on the Chinese lunisolar calendar. It is either the 4th, 5th, or 6th day of April and is 15th day after the spring equinox (April 4, 2020).

Chinese families visit the burial sites of ancestors and honor and clean them. They use a broom to sweep their ancestor grave or tomb. These families“烧香 (shāo xiāng) burn joss sticks” or burn joss papers to also honor them. They pray to their ancestors and make offerings to them.

Chinese General single

The holiday has been in practice for about 2500 years and also became an official holiday in 2008. People of age also start courting one another during the holiday.

The holiday originally came from Hinshi festival and the nobleman Jie Zitui. He was an honorable man serving his lord well. He was later killed by a new king and had a temple constructed in his name. Many Chinese people pay respects to popular people of reverence and of culture during Qingming Festival.

The Celebration in This Year is Different:

The Qingming Festival this year is different than other years, because of the emergence of the Coronavirus. This is because it is harder for people to go to grave sites. On Aprl 2, Shanghai issued the plan of the ‘Day of Sweeping’. According to statistics, there are 54 cemeteries and 160,000 tombs to be swept on Aprl 4, 140,000 tombs on April 5, and 120,000 tombs on April 6. Sichuan Province made a similar measure scheduling the day in advance.

In order to ensure that the timely sweeping and epidemic preventetive measures are being made during the Qingming period, Tomb sweepers are required to strictly implement “预防措施 (Yù fáng cuò shī) preventive measures”. This includes body temperature detection, adherence to certain conduct policies, and wearing masks.

Chinese General single

In addition, the day of “云祭祀 (Yún jì sì) Online Remembrance” is launched. This means families can log on a designated platform to establish an online memorial space for the deceased. They can send their flowers and messages on the Internet to pay their respects.It the same like Online Chinese learning . Now many people choose to study online. That will be more safe and convenient.

Chinese General single

But, the reception of the “云祭祀 (Yún jì sì) Online Remembrance” day has been lukewarm. The main reason is the change to some traditional concepts of the Qingming Festival. Some experts believe that in the traditional concept of the day, remembrance should be made directly to the ancestor’s tombstone. You should be able to offer a sacrifice, burn some money, and “鞠躬 (Jū gōng) bow” in silence. The family can interact in front of the tombstone, and can express their affection. On the Internet, this can no longer happen.

Key Learning points:

1. 烧香 (Shāo xiāng):v to burn joss sticks / incenses

(Shāo):v to burn

(Xiāng): incense /joss sticks


A: Nǐ wèi shén me yào shāo xiāng ?
A: 你为什么要烧香?
A: Why do you burn incense?

B: Wǒ xiǎng biǎo dá duì fó tuó de zūn jìng
B: 我想表达对佛陀的尊敬
B: I want to express gratitude and veneration to the Buddha.

2. 预防措施 (Yù fáng cuò shī): n preventive measures

预防 (Yù fáng):prevention

措施 (Cuò shī): measure


A: Nǐ wèi shén me yào dài kǒu zhào ?
A: 你为什么要带口罩?
A: Why do you wear a mask?

B: Xiàn zài bìng dú qíng kuàng hěn yán zhòng , wǒ men yào jí shí zuò yù fáng cuò shī
B: 现在病毒情况很严重,我们要及时做预防措施.
B: Now the virus situation is very serious, we need to take preventive measures in time.

3. 鞠躬 (Jū gōng): v to bow


Wǒ men jū gōng yǐ biǎo shì zūn jìng
We bow in token of respect.

4. 云祭祀 (Yún jì sì): Online Remembrance

(Yún): cloud(cloud service), means online here

祭祀 (Jì sì): remembrance


Jīn nián qīng míng jié , rén men yǐ yún jì sì lái biǎo dá gǎn qíng.
People express their affection through Online Remembrance in Qingming festival this year.

HSK 3 quiz

Please choose the best answer to fill in the blank.

A. 烧香 (Shāo xiāng)

B. 鞠躬 (Jū gōng)

1. _______ hé shāozhǐ qián , shì wèi le fó zǔ de bì yòu

2. Zhǔ rén_______ yíng jiē kè rén jìn wū

See Answer Analysis

HSK 1 quiz

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