Qing Ming Is About Knowing Our Family Tree

Before the Qing Ming festival ends, let me blog something about this one month festival. This Qing Ming festival or Tomb Sweeping festival is a time where we pay our respect to our elders or relatives who have left us.

I remember when I was young during my primary school days, I love this Qing Ming festival as it was a time when I could get together with my cousins. Usually my Seventh Uncle’s family would chartered for a mini bus to pick up both families for this important day.

Of course at that time, Qing Ming festival is really a Tomb Sweeping festival as our ancestors tombs were still at those graveyard at Peck San Theng. You may take a look at the old Peck San Theng here. We need to walk a distance to the tombs then, and those Indian grass cutters who can speak Cantonese much better than my kids, will lead the way. Needless to say, we had to pay them some money to clear those wild grasses at our ancestors’ tombs.

After the relocation of tombs to temples and Government-Managed Columbaria, my Seventh Uncle’s family and ours did not go together anymore during this festival. But now only my wife and my kids will accompany me to pay our respect to our ancestors.

 My Paternal Grandmother tablet was located at the Kwong Wai Siew Peck San Theng, while my Paternal Grandfather and Great Grandmother are at the Mandai Columbarium. I prefer the Mandai Columbarium as it is much cleaner and tidy though the distance is much further from my house.

Mandai Columbarium;

But why I said Qing Ming festival is about knowing our Family Tree? Well how many of us especially the younger generation like my kids know the relationships of who we are paying respect to? How do our kids address them in our own dialects or in Mandarin? Of course in English is much easier but I’m talking about our Chinese Roots and our own Family Tree. How much we know about our Family Tree then? Do you keep a record of your Family Tree too? I’m glad that my father bothers to keep a record of our own Family Tree when he was much healtier;

My father has 9 brothers/sisters and my father is the youngest (10th). So the one at Peck San Theng is my Paternal Grandmother or 祖母. I will address her as 奶奶. The other 2 at Mandai Columbarium are my Paternal Grandfather or 祖父 and Paternal Great Grandmother or 曾祖母. I will address my Grandfather as 爺爺 and my Paternal Great Grandmother as 老奶奶. Of course what my kids address them will be much more complex haha. Luckily my mother kept two copies of old newspaper cuttings regarding the Family Tree address or relationship. One is from The 1981 copy of The Straits Times;

I don’t quite like this set as it’s not so detail;

 The other copy is the 1988 Straits Times;

I like this copy very much as it’s not only colorful but detail and clear; Credit : Above 4, The Straits Times, SPH

I’ve to admit that I’m no good at such Chinese addresses for our relatives and elders. My wife and I also have difficulties in teaching our kids to address our relatives in Mandarin when we visit them.

One example is my wife’s elder sister and younger sister – how should my kids address them? All the while my wife asked our kids to address them (both elder and younger sister) as 姨. But I think there should be a difference and should it be my wife’s elder sister as 姨媽 and younger sister as ? Do you think so?

You may check it out here too at this site;  

“maternal elder aunt mother’s elder sister 姨母  yi4 mou5 yi2 mu3 姨媽 yi4 ma1 yi2 ma1

maternal elder aunt’s husband mother’s elder sister’s husband; 姨夫 yi4 fu1 yi2 fu1 姨丈 yi4 jeung6 yi2 zhang4  

maternal younger aunt mother’s younger sister 姨 yi4 yi2 same

 maternal younger aunt’s husband mother’s younger sister’s husband; 姨丈 yi4 jeung6 yi2 zhang4 same”

On the lighter side, Mediacorp will be showing its new Chinese drama series “

书包太重, My School Daze”. The first series on 29 Apr 2009 at 9pm Channel 8 will be interesting especially when a lady Chinese tutors teaching Mandarin to her students.

Listen carefully to what the teacher said ‘Your Mother’s Elder and Younger Sisters called姨’;

Now the second part is really hilarious;

Credit : Mediacorps.

But why is it important to know the address and relationship for Qing Ming festival? Well at least when you burn the offerings to your ancestors, you can write down who you are offering to and their relationship to you. The Green Bag is for Female (红男绿女);

The Red Bag is for Male;

This is my Grandfather’s tablet;

This is my Great Grandmother’s tablet;

You may see that usually for female (my Great Grandmother) their names were omitted as they just take after their husband’s surname. Unfair for the fairer sex right? Also note how the years were written at that time – Min Guo 民囯.

Min Guo 民囯” refers to Zhonghua Minguo 中華民囯 (Republic of China or ROC) established in 1911, but eventually had to relocate to Taiwan in 1949 after the Chinese nationalist (Kuomintang) lost the civil war to the Chinese communist. Therefore, the stated Min Guo year will be based on the years starting from 1911.

So, for Min Guo 27th year, it’s 1938 (since 1911+27 years)

For Min Guo 24th year, it’s 1935 (since 1911+24 years)

Btw, I do not have any religion so I’m not so well verse with all these tradition but since I’m Chinese, I must still go along with our tradition, our roots, else next time my kids will not know what and how to do when my wife and I gone.





22 Responses to “Qing Ming Is About Knowing Our Family Tree”

  1. 1 acroamatic Monday, April 27, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Thanks for the link to Peck San Theng, LKK. Incidentally, I’ve found out a lot about my own family tree in the past month. I think it’s time to get off my butt and blog about it.

  2. 2 acroamatic Monday, April 27, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    Thanks for the link to Peck San Theng, LKK. Incidentally, I’ve found out a lot about my own family tree in the past month. I think it’s time to get off my butt and blog about it.
    Sorry… forgot to say great post – can’t wait to read your next one!

  3. 3 Icemoon Monday, April 27, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    > You may see that usually for female (my Great Grandmother) their names were omitted as they just take after their husband’s surname. Unfair for the fairer sex right?

    Married women were referred to by their family surname. So your great grandmother was a ‘Shaw’.

    By the way, I can’t find the ancestral village on the tablet. Or have I missed it?

  4. 4 laokokok Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 8:04 am

    Hi Acroamatic,
    Pls share with us your Family Tree, guess it will be great.

    Hi Icemoon,
    Yes my Great Grandmother was a ‘Shaw’ too hehe.

  5. 6 laokokok Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 9:33 am

    Wah that’s pretty fast Kenneth. And it’s 122 people in your Family Tree! Is that 6 generation?

  6. 7 acroamatic Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 9:39 am

    Oh, it’s been there a while. I put it up for someone who was helping me with my family tree recently. As I said, have not blogged about it. Yet. =P

    Four generations above me, and one below, so I guess it’s six!

  7. 8 Peter Wednesday, April 29, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    I too got hold of a copy of my family ancestry book – think it sounds like “Cheuk Po” in Cantonese. The trouble is I can’t read Chinese adn the Cantonese translation is too chim for me. I wish someone out there could help. I approached Victor and he was able to help to a small extent. I do know it dates back to the 10th Century AD and the last record was on the 25th generation in Singapore. I belong to the 26th.

  8. 9 acroamatic Wednesday, April 29, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Wow, Peter… that’s a pretty long family heritage to have in Singapore itself.

  9. 10 angelene Wednesday, April 29, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    Hi, I would like to have a copy of the family tree advertised in Straits Times in 1988, is it possible? Thanks!

  10. 11 yg Wednesday, April 29, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    i am glad there is qing ming. apart from the lunar new year, this is the other time when my siblings and i come together as one big family.

  11. 12 laokokok Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 7:32 am

    Wah Peter, your family ancestry book must be very thick. So who is doing the updating now?

  12. 13 laokokok Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 7:36 am

    HI Angelene,
    You can get a print copy from the National Library. Check this out here http://newspapers.nl.sg/

  13. 14 laokokok Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 7:38 am

    You are right YG in the past during the Qing Ming, it’s a get together time for families and relatives. How I miss such gathering.

  14. 15 Peter Friday, May 1, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    The updating used to be done by our clan association down in Mosque Street. Unfortunately after my grandfather died in the 1970s, nobody saw it necessary for updating. Also after my grandparents died, there was no more those Ching Ming gatherings. What I have is a “rough tree”, again Victor helped me on this, to piece together my cousins. Beyond my cousins, I am afraid nobody knows who married who, and how many children/descendents after that.

    In some ways what my late grandmother said has come true: After she died the family will “split” and relatives will not come together again. This leads me to wonder whether in the first place there were too many siblings, whether the only reason for different generations to come together is for the sake of “steam boat” or because people got married and they chose to lead independent lives?

    What do you all think?

  15. 16 Timothy Monday, May 4, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Hi LKK,

    wonder if i can trouble you for a scan copy of the newspaper cutting of the family tree that your wife kept? It looks really good – too bad i was too young to start keeping such snippets of news!

    Do let me know if there is a lot of trouble for you. Many thanks.

  16. 17 algae Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    My updating were done by my relatives in China. If there is a birth, we will inform them. The list is exhaustive but I’ve yet to count if I have reach the 26th generation. Glad to say that the younger generation is still in touch with their cousins in China via the internet. Like most Chinese clans, we follow the tradition of having the second character as the generation rank followed by the name.

  17. 18 laokokok Friday, May 29, 2009 at 7:37 am

    Luckily there is internet, else updating will be quite a hassle.

  18. 19 christine Sunday, September 19, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    this is a great post! I was researching for a project on Qing Ming festival and I really learnt a lot! thanks!

  19. 20 sky Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    Hi there. Thanks for the post. The link isn’t working anymore. Are there any alternatives? Thanks

  1. 1 Topics about Ancestrys » Archive » Qing Ming Is About Knowing Our Family Tree Trackback on Monday, April 27, 2009 at 5:04 pm
  2. 2 Topics about Ancestrys » Archive » Qing Ming Is About Knowing Our Family Tree « Times of My Life Trackback on Monday, April 27, 2009 at 5:05 pm

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