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Tomb Sweeping Day
Tomb Sweeping DayReuters
Tomb Sweeping Day
Tomb Sweeping DayReuters
Tomb Sweeping Day
Tomb Sweeping DayReuters
Tomb Sweeping Day
Tomb Sweeping DayReuters
Tomb Sweeping Day
Tomb Sweeping DayReuters
Tomb Sweeping Day
Tomb Sweeping DayBetel Nut/Twitter
Tomb Sweeping Day
Tomb Sweeping DayReuters
Tomb Sweeping Day
Tomb Sweeping DayReuters

China has been celebrating "Tomb Sweeping Day" with millions of people across the country visiting the graves of their ancestors and commemorating the dead.

The elaborate family celebrations at grave sites throughout China are part of the Qingming festival. Families burn incense and money at the graves of their ancestors.

Tomb Sweeping Day, which began around 2,500 years ago, consists of placing a white rooster on the grave. The ceremony was attributed to the Tang emperor Xuanzong in 732BC, who said too many wealthy people were holding extravogent ceremonies for their ancestors.

He said respects could only formally be paid at their deceased family member's graves on Qingming, the first day of the fifth solar term.

Tombs are swept and food, tea, wine and other gifts offered to the departed spirit and to the gods. Some families put willow branches on their gates or front doors to ward off evil spirits said to wander the Earth during Qingming.

Over 1,000 tonnes of paper products are burnt in memory of the deceased but authorities are cracking down on the practice because of the fire risk.

Last year, 520 million people visited their ancestors' tombs during the festival.