寒衣日 "Winter Clothes Day" 2022
On my walk home last night, small fires on the sides of the streets,
it is the time of 寒衣日 or "Winter Clothes Day"...
On "Winter Clothes Day", the first day of October in the Chinese lunisolar calendar, people burn 'clothes', usually made by paper to send to their deceased parents, family members or ancestors to keep them warm and comfortable during the upcoming winter.
We also received two bags with winter clothes for our little son from 哥哥 (Gēgē) or 'elder brothers' (one cousin and one friend) who have outgrown their clothes from last winter(s), a common custom as well among families and friends during this time.
Different ancient legends make the origin of Winter Clothes day, probably the most known the story of Meng Jiangnu during the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) following her husband who was sent far away to the North for working on the Great Wall. Arriving at the Great Wall she learned that her husband died and her grief made the Great Wall crumble to let her husband's corpse appear to her for making a proper burial with warm winter clothes to keep him warm during the cold Northern winters.
According to ancient records, during the pre-Qin period (2,100 B.C.-221 B.C), on Winter clothes day, the emperors held a ceremony to welcome the winter. When they returned after the ceremony, they would reward those who had died for the country, and compensate their wives and children. And those who had died were rewarded with winter clothes to protect them against the winter in the underworld.