Time Wasted: Not making good use of a holiday


In news items about the urns in China, you may have noted mention of Tomb Sweeping Day (Qingming Festival 清明节). It and Children’s Day (in Taiwan) are two holidays celebrated on April 4th and April 5th.  The word for “four” in Chinese (and Korean and Japanese) sounds like the word for “death”, so 4/4 is their day of the dead.  Never give anything to an ethnic Chinese person that comes in a multiple of four; packaged products here come in 3s, 5s, and higher numbers, rarely 4s.

Normal Tomb Sweeping Day activities involve visiting shrines, cutting grass and cleaning family graves or visiting family elders.  Over on the mainland, they may not even be able to do that, unable to claim their deceased and give them a proper burial.  Mourning periods are not officially banned, but are well nigh impossible in the current situation.


The holidays fall on a weekend this year, which in the past would have meant no extra days off.  But starting in 2018, Taiwan enacted statutory holidays when they fall on the weekend, meaning schools and businesses are closed for Thursday and Friday (4/2 and 4/3).  Normally a four day weekend would be nice, but, with COVID-19 around, the number of infected in Taiwan over 300 and selfish cretins STILL breaking voluntary quarantine (one did it TWICE and was fined both times), most people I know are staying home.

This holiday was a missed opportunity. If the government had enacted a mandatory national quarantine from March 28 to April 12, it would have meant only eight lost work and school days (3/30-4/1, 4/6-4/10) and allowed the medical system to get ahead of things. And this isn’t just my view, one of the government’s own doctors working on it (I’ll add a link to the news item when I find it again) has recommended a national two week quarantine.  The acts of a selfish few could cause it to overrun the island.


Tomb Sweeping Day always makes me think of The Replacements:

“The ones who love us best

Are the ones we’ll lay to rest

And visit their graves on holidays, at best”

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