Probably one of the best things about travelling apart from eating yourself to death on the great food available is to learn how other cultures do things. The best thing about having these cultural differences is that it makes life interesting, and a lot of the time, I think it’s a great idea and try to incorporate these cultural differences into my own life (it really beats the ‘homogoenisation’ of the world!). For example, I love the way Italians ‘live to eat’ instead of ‘eating to live’ – where every meal is taken seriously and meant to be enjoyed.
Anyway, I came across an interesting and fascinating part of Chinese Culture and Traditions in Singapore, and it’s how many Chinese deal with death – which is obviously a certain part of life! I’m morbidly intrigued in how other cultures deal with death, because I know in Australia it’s viewed as a taboo subject no one wants to talk about.
I personally like the Latin American way they deal with death during the Day of the Dead (or Dia De Los Muertos), where they have an all day party in the cemetery, bringing along their departed ones favourite food and music so they can be with them by the headstone all day. This was not a somber occasion – actually, it was quite the opposite – happy and festive. I thought to myself, I wish this was part of my culture!
Anyway, when I was checking out the Chinatown area of Singapore, I was introduced to the Chinese cultural tradition of burning imitation goods for your deceased relatives so that they can have them in their next life. That’s right, you can buy all sorts of paper and cardboard cutouts to burn in your urn for your favourite relative. Bear with me here!
This appeared briefly as the one on 10 Weird Things to do in Singapore which I managed to undertake thanks with the help of the friendly local guides found on MeGuideU.
Chinese Culture Fact – Burn all of this stuff for your deceased relatives!
For example, if you think your deceased relative needs vitamins or fish oil, you can burn whole imitation packets of them to make sure they get this stuff in the after life!
Or if you’re afraid of them being smelly, why not burn some shampoo and deodorant so that they will be well groomed.
Here is a stand with all of this stuff! You can literally pretty much burn anything – there will be a cardboard or paper imitation there waiting for you to purchase! Everything from imitation golf balls (sounds like a golf joke ready to happen!) to power tools!
Even clothes so your nominated relative won’t be wearing your birthday suit in the next life! Yes, all of these items below are cardboard fakes, not actually real clothes!
Anyway, the one thing that I learnt from this is that I’m going to burn a billion dollars for myself. Hey, it can’t hurt! Yes, this shop did have wads of fake money, even a one billion dollar note. As a substitute, you could possibly use the 100 trillion Zimbabwe dollar note!
While I found this Chinese tradition a bit unusual, I think it’s cool because it’s way different to anything else I’ve come across before! And when in Chinatown, do what the Chinese do!