There’s a Chinese tradition whereby fake paper money is burnt to honor the deceased ancestors. It is believed that by setting this money on fire it will be transferred to the afterworld and hence the dead ancestors will receive it and their afterlives will be improved.
According to my friend’s explanation the money needs to be folded in a specific way and you can either buy the banknotes and fold them yourself or you can buy it pre-folded like this gentleman is offering in his little shop.
But it’s not all about money. You can also send other things into the afterworld by burning them. Like these paper trainers (for sporty ancestors).
These presents are usually burnt during funerals or during the annual Tomb Sweeping Festival. But I also saw a couple of people in the street burning money, so I guess it’s possible any time of the year.
You can send anything to the afterworld really. Credit cards, iPhones, iPads…
I think it is a really nice tradition! Because it makes you remember your ancestors in a different way and it feels like you can actually do something for them. I think my great-grandma might like an iPad!
Or maybe a new house like this:
Yes, that’s right, you can buy a house made of paper and wood and burn it for your ancestors. And it’s not any old house, it has furniture and everything!
I asked my friend who the people inside were – they’re maids! So you can even send a couple of maids through to the afterworld to get your ancestors some help with all the cooking and cleaning. How cool is that?
Also, don’t forget the guard for protection.
There’s also a little car.
But isn’t that car maybe a bit small?
Yes, better send a life-size one!
We came across this car around the corner from that colorful house. Unfortunately it was covered up so I couldn’t see it properly but my friend confirmed that this was also meant for sending to the afterworld.
Don’t get me wrong – it is terribly sad when someone dies and I assume people living around that area where I saw the car and the house must have recently lost a loved one and hence bought these goods to burn at the funeral.
But I think that this tradition of sending presents to the afterworld somehow is quite consoling. It’s nice to believe that people live on in a different world and that you can communicate with them and help them to have a better life in that way.