Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Money for the Dead 

Hiking up the ravine today, I saw a pile of "money" on the ground. No doubt left over from tomb sweeping day. It isn't real money, of course--it is left for departed loved ones to take care of their expenses in the next world. Not sure why this pile of money wasn't burned.

Click for larger image.
During Chinese New Year, it is not unusual to see people burning money to send it to the next world. This, of course, creates quite a mess if a lot of people are doing it. The government is encouraging people to send flowers to their departed loved ones instead of money. I will have to say that it sure looks nicer to see a bunch of tombs covered with flowers rather than burned up litter. But I don't know how they managed to make this transition without consulting the departed loved ones to see if flowers would be acceptable. Believe it or not, there are web sites now, where you can send virtual flowers (or money, I would presume) to your departed family members, thus saving the trouble of going to the cemetery.

Traditional ceremonies like Tomb Sweeping Day point give fresh insight into the nature of Chinese culture. Officially, China may be an atheist society. But it is most definitely not an atheist culture. It is a pagan culture. I have addressed this issue before, but the Chinese people are not atheists. Atheists don't burn money for their departed loved ones. I think this is the main reason why the religion of Marxism failed in China. The political system, of course, remains, although it is not really Marxist. But Marxism as a religion is dead. I have not met a single adherent since I came to China five years ago.

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