Ancestor’s Day

The Daily Prompt guru’s are asking: Yesterday was Father’s Day in many countries. If you could dedicate a holiday to a more distant relative, who would it be — and why?

TombSweepingDayQingmingFestival6

The Qingming Jie Festival, also known as Tomb Sweeping or Ching Ming, is a holiday that was officially established in China in 732 AD, but has spread throughout several other Asian countries.  It is a time where families gather to tend their ancestor’s graves.  To honor their departed loved ones, they offer a variety of foods, drink, paper money called “joss money” which is apparently, a welcome currency in the afterlife.  Some resources claim that families may even decide to burn paqing-ming-festival-1per replicas of all of the things their loved ones need in order to have a fulfilling afterlife.  By all accounts, the day is a remarkably happy day, not a sombre one.  A day that families stay together to eat, dance and visit.  Flying kites is also a tradition for this festival, as well as marking the beginning of courtships.

 

We don’t have anything remotely like that here in the United States.  Native Americans honor their ancestors in ceremonies unique to each tribe, but none are recognized as National Holidays.  We have a Memorial Day, but what if none of your ancestors ever served in the military?  I know, that’s a stretch, I’m trying to make a point here.  I have countless ancestors honored on both Memorial and Veterans Day, but I also have so many who never get honored – Nationally – on any given day.  So, I think we should have an Ancestor’s Day.  We’re all a bunch of mutts, aren’t we?  We have so many different lineages to explore and people who, whether they made a difference in the world or not, are the reason why we’re here, on this Earth, sucking in air.  So, why shouldn’t we honor them?

P50_AUX_178_256My great-great-great grandfather, Richard Bailey, immigrated from Bristol, England to Chicago in 1871 to find it burning to the ground, so he settled on the outskirts and helped establish a whole community.  He built a homestead, a school, planted trees and was widowed shortly after the birth of his youngest daughter, making him a single father with 6 kids. Later on, he even raised his grandson, my g-g-grandfather.  Richard lived to be in his 90’s and was never in the military, so when should I honor him?  Neither was my long-ago ancestor, Penelope Stout, whom I’ve already dedicated an entire post to here.  I could go on and on, but I won’t bore you with the genealogy (even though I find it fascinating).  The point is – aside from that one (possibly two) axe murderer(s) in the family tree – I think that celebrating where we came from should be a new American tradition.  We should pay a little respect to those who were community leaders, farmers, civil servants, nurses, seamstresses, clerks, everyday Joe’s and Jane’s who may never have served in any military, yet still played a major role in our own personal histories.

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