“Do you have any holidays to honour the dead?” Lisa, the mother of one of the boys I tutor, had asked last week when she’d told me we’d be cancelling today’s lesson for the tomb sweeping holiday. “No,” I replied, “None other then, well easter, but that’s different. I mean families will usually do their own thing to honour their own dead. Maybe meet up on the anniversary of someone’s death, or birthday.”
Most of our classes were also canceled for this holiday that I knew nothing about, other then the bits and pieces of information I gained from my colleagues.
“You know, it is important to have many people show up to cry for the family members.” Laura, one of our CTs, explained to us. “But you know not everyone can go to the tombs, and now many families are very small, so many families will hire professional weepers to come and cry. You can make a lot of money this weekend if you are a professional weeper.”
Katrina had a hard time with this concept, “You realized these people aren’t actually crying.”
“Yes they actually cry, you know just like the actors they train themselves to cry real tears.” Laura explained.
“But they’re not actually crying, you understand the difference right.”
Traditionally, China’s tomb sweeping holiday, called Qingming Festival, is a day to go out to the tombs of loved ones, remove weeds, and bring some of the person’s favourite foods and drink. Families will burn a special yellow paper that represents money to send to the dead, (http://www.travelchinaguide.com/essential/holidays/qingming.htm). We saw a lot of this yellow paper for sale coming up to the holiday, as well as pages of cardboard with pictures of very detailed clothing on it, as if made to be cut out for a paper doll. Apparently this is also burned in order to send clothes to the day. Katrina was quite fascinated with the idea of sending her Grandfather some new clothes to wear.
I was chosen to read a story to a group of students before a demo. It was fun, and I was partnered with Meghan, who is really cool. We chose a easter book, and they hid laminated eggs around the library. We had the children hopping up and down and then searching for the eggs.
There was lots of drama in the office today as our fellow colleagues dealt with the outrage at not going to an amusement park. Lulu, from marketing, had arranged a day trip, and had invited us along. Though, to my knowledge, there had never been any mention about an amusement park, the rumour had circulated through the western side of the office. I put my headphones in and tried to ignore it. I was excited for the trip, and I don’t think Nate would fit into the rides at the Chinese amusement parks anyways.
I went shopping with Sonya, Shirley, Meghan, and Katrina after work. Sonya looked exhausted. She’s been volunteering in a maternity ward to gain experience, and hasn’t had much free time since she started. Tomorrow morning will be another 8:00 am start for her.