Friday, December 2, 2011

Fires in the Night

This is the fifth post about a recent business trip I took to Hebei province
While driving through Tangshan on the first night of our government-sponsored tour of northeast Hebei, I noticed a small group of people huddled around a small bonfire. They were tossing pieces of paper into the flame to keep it going. As we drove through the city, I saw more fires.
My interpreter said they were making offerings to their ancestors. The pieces of paper, called joss paper or hell money, are monetary offerings so the people’s ancestors have cash in the afterlife.
When we got to Qinhuangdao, I snuck out of the hotel late at night to find a few of these people. On one of the street corners, about 20 people were busy burning the papers. I tried to be as discrete as possible, but there’s only so much blending in a white guy with a big camera can do on a small street in a city that doesn’t get many foreign visitors.

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