The Qingming Festival, which falls on the 15th day after the spring equinox, is a day where family gathers together to remember their deceased loved ones. Literally translated as ‘clear’ and ‘bright’, the festival was first brought over by early Chinese settlers.
With such a rich history, the festival is still observed in Singapore, with practices that closely resemble that in China. An example of one important custom would be saomu, or tomb-sweeping, where families tidy up the graves of their loved ones. In Singapore, where there are fewer burial grounds, this practice has evolved to include cleaning the columbarium niches where the ashes of ancestors are kept.
As a multicultural country, Singapore always encourages education about different cultures and their distinct customs. To cultivate a better understanding and deeper appreciation for the Chinese Singaporean culture, the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre has launched the following programmes to spotlight the customs and traditions during the Qingming Festival:
Kaki Says: Qingming Festival
Available from 26 March 2021, this programme tells the story of the origins of the Qingming Festival. Learn more about a man named Jie Zitui who burnt to death, and his connection to the Cold Food Festival (Han Shi Festival or 寒食节), which takes place a day before Qingming. This animated video tells this lesser-known story and other fun facts behind the festival in an easy-to-consume, fun way. Don’t miss out!
Keeping Traditions Alive: We Are Family
Supported by the Genealogy Society Singapore, this programme will be available from 1 April 2021. Follow Shin Liat and Jack from the Genealogy Society Singapore to learn more about how the Qingming Festival is related to our roots. They will shed light on what the festival means to them, and how various dialect groups in Singapore honour their ancestors through different practices. Through conversations between these fathers and their children, discover the importance of passing down cultural values to the next generation.
SINGAPO人: Discovering Chinese Singaporean Culture
This ongoing exhibition highlights Chinese Singaporean Culture through food, language, and festivals. Learn more about ‘sansheng’; the three dishes often used as food offerings during the Qingming Festival, as well as other time-honoured practices. Through the exhibition, you will also come away with a better understanding of how Singapore’s Chinese culture has evolved uniquely, quite unlike any other communities in Singapore.
Opening hours: 2 pm to 8 pm (Monday), 10 am to 8 pm (Tuesday to Sunday) *Extended opening hours until 9 pm till 28 March 2021.
Location: Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre, Level 2 (1 Straits Boulevard, Singapore 018906)
Price: Free Admission
With Singapore constantly evolving to become more modern, we must also not lose sight of our cultural roots. Hence, this programme is perfect for those who want to come on down to learn more about Chinese culture in Singapore, either strengthen their cultural identity or just to learn something new. Do bring your friends and family to learn more about the Qingming Festival together!
If you want to learn more information on Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre’s programmes, be sure to visit their website!
Visuals Courtesy of Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre.