Today is the actual Ching Ming day, 4 April 2012. It always falls on 4th (on leap year) or 5th April every year, exactly 105 days after Winter Solstice - 22 December. Families pray for their dearly departed 10 days before of after the actual date.
My mom told me a lot of Chinese important dates and festivals and the significance of each. She will remember all the dates and birth/death date of our grandparents, and dutifully, she'll perform the praying rites at family altar, as passed down by our grandmother to her. I was the youngest in the family and I look forward to help out burn the paper/money offerings and she'll tell the the meaning of each item burnt. I look forward to help her out and always hoping it doesn't fall on a weekday when I'm at school.
Mom has passed on and it has been a long 17 years. Never one day that I do not think of her. She's in my thoughts every day but my tears have run low. I hope she has re-incarnated to a better life *wink*
My brother has passed on 15 years and according to Chinese customs, only the younger ones or 'lower in rank' ones can pray for a dearly departed and in my family, I'm the younger that of my brother and my nephews and nieces will join along to pray for their ah-gu and ah-chik.
The photo above was taken last year and Amber was helping out. She's very inquisitive on Chinese cultures and such and will always offer to help whenever we or her grandma perform some praying rituals.
Ching Ming is all about remembering our ancestors and roots and also those that have gone too soon. People who were once in our lives, will remain in our hearts, with fond memories.:)