Green tomb-sweeping activities gain popularity in China

The Qingming Festival, or Tomb-sweeping Day, which falls on April 4 this year, is a Chinese festival dedicated to paying pay tribute to the deceased and honoring their ancestors by visiting tombs.

Traditionally, people burned paper money and set off firecrackers to worship the dead, but this sometimes causes problems, such as traffic jams and fire hazards.

In recent years, an increasing number of people in China have engaged in more eco-friendly tomb-sweeping activities.

A citizen pays tribute via an online memorial platform in Beijing, April 2, 2024. /CMG

A citizen pays tribute via an online memorial platform in Beijing, April 2, 2024. /CMG

Agencies in charge of funeral services have provided online tribute-paying services by creating mourning websites and other commemorative platforms on the internet.  

People can burn virtual incense and money, and make offerings through online platforms, which also enables those who are far away from home to pay their respects.

On the day of Qingming Festival last year, there were more than 2.47 million visits to virtual memorial ceremonies on 1,414 online platforms, according to data from the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

Agencies in charge of funeral services provide local residents with free buses to visit graves in Jinggang Town in Hefei City, capital of east China’s Anhui Province, April 4, 2024. /CFP

Agencies in charge of funeral services provide local residents with free buses to visit graves in Jinggang Town in Hefei City, capital of east China’s Anhui Province, April 4, 2024. /CFP

Various agencies in charge of funeral services across the country have also provided free buses for local residents to visit graves, which alleviates traffic congestion and promotes green travel.

People scatter flowers and ashes into the sea to commemorate those who have passed away in north China’s Tianjin Municipality, March 31, 2024. /CMG

People scatter flowers and ashes into the sea to commemorate those who have passed away in north China’s Tianjin Municipality, March 31, 2024. /CMG

Eco-burials in China encompass various forms, including lawn burials, flowerbed burials, tree burials as well as sea burials.

According to data from the Ministry of Civil Affairs, there were 1,263 burials in green ways such as tree burial and sea burial, accounting for approximately 4.38 percent of the total number of burials, during last year’s Qingming Festival.

The burial ways, which allow for ashes to be returned to nature after being buried in the soil or scattered into the sea, are gaining more acceptance among people.

In recent years, various places across the country have offered subsidies for eco-burial procedures to motivate more people to embrace the greener way of saying goodbye.