People have been visiting their ancestors' graves and leaving them offerings of food and fake paper money. The Qingming Festival, also known as Tomb Sweeping Day, is a holiday observed in ethnic Chinese communities all over the world on the 15th day after the spring equinox.

The festival is marked with solemn ceremonies to honour the ancestors. People often leave fruit, whole chickens and other food for their dead relatives. They also burn incense, fake money and paper models of houses, cars and other goods in the belief their ancestors will be able to enjoy them in the afterlife.

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'Spirit money' is burned near a grave at a cemetery in ShanghaiJohannes Eisele/AFP
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Smoke from burning incense and paper money rises over a cemetery in Fuzhou, Jiangxi Province, ChinaReuters
Tomb sweeping
People carry food offerings during an annual ceremony to pay respects to their ancestors in Taoyuan, TaiwanTyrone Siu/Reuters
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A child looks through offerings left for ancestors in Taoyuan, TaiwanTyrone Siu/Reuters
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A child holding a Hello Kitty balloon stands in front of offerings at a cemetery in Taoyuan, TaiwanTyrone Siu/Reuters
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Vendors sells flowers during the Qingming festival at a cemetery in Babaoshan in BeijingFred Dufour/AFP
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A man repaints the inscription on a relative's grave in BeijingFred Dufour/AFP
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Women walk past graves adorned with offerings at a cemetery in Babaoshan in BeijingFred Dufour/AFP
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Participants row boats during a traditional celebration for Qingming Festival, also known as Tomb Sweeping Day, in Taizhou, Jiangsu ProvinceReuters
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People wear traditional costumes at a celebration to worship Yellow Emperor Xuan Yuan, who is considered by many to be the ancestor of the Chinese, in Hangling county, Shaanxi Province, ChinaReuters
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A woman burns offerings and prays at her parents' grave in ShanghaiJohannes Eisele/AFP
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People visit the graves of their ancestors at a cemetery in Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaManan Vatsayana/AFP
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A father holds hands with his son as they walk over offerings and paper money in Taoyuan, TaiwanTyrone Siu/Reuters
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Children holding lanterns parade for the Qingming Festival, or Tomb Sweeping Day in Yiwu, Zhejiang provinceReuters
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Crowds arrive at a cemetry in Shanghai for the annual Qingming festival or Tomb Sweeping DayJohannes Eisele/AFP
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Food, incense and other offerings are pictured on a grave in ShanghaiJohannes Eisele/AFP
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People tend to graves of their ancestors at a cemetery in ShanghaiJohannes Eisele/AFP
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Paper money is burned beside a grave at a public cemetery in ShanghaiJohannes Eisele/AFP

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

Two Chinese forest rangers are reported to have died in a forest fire caused by people burning fake paper money and incense on Thursday (31 March). The fire broke out on a hillside in the eastern city of Qingdao and was put out by more than 100 firefighters after two hours, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. It said the two rangers died after getting trapped by the blaze and a third one was hospitalised.