Lonely Planet Writer

Chinese celebrate deceased pets instead of relatives for Tomb Sweeping Festival

On 4 April this year, people across China honour their deceased relatives during the annual Tomb Sweeping Festival, or Qingming Jie. Rituals include cleaning off tombstones and leaving fruit, tea and alcohol, and burning joss paper to ensure that relatives are seen into the afterlife with prosperity.

Two women in Hong Kong pay their respects to relatives during Qingming Jie.
Two women in Hong Kong pay their respects to relatives during Qingming Jie. Image by istolethetv / CC BY 2.0

However, some people have changed this traditional version of the holiday by celebrating their dead pets instead. A dedicated pet cemetery, which opened in Beijing in 2005, charges ¥2000-5000 (US$308-770) for a 30-year plot for dogs, cats and other beloved creatures. Mourners visit the cemetery during Qingming Jie to honour the memory of their furry friends in the same way they would deceased family members: by placing pet toys, food and accessories on the tombstones. This trend has grown in recent years with the rise of China’s middle class and increasing taboos on eating dog meat. Read more: channelnewsasia.com