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.
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.