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Paper sacrificial offerings burning hot

Paper sacrificial offerings burning hot

Updated: 2012-03-30 07:45

By Zheng Caixiong in Guangzhou (China Daily)

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The price of paper-made sacrificial offerings has increased by up to 50 percent ahead of the Qingming Festival, or Tomb-Sweeping Day, in Guangzhou, mainly due to the rising costs of labor and raw materials.

Paper-made imitations of famous brand-name luxuries, including Louis Vuitton bags, cars, laptops, watches, garments, wine and cigarettes, were among the items that saw the largest price hike.

"A paper-made foreign-brand car, Louis Vuitton bag or a set of Western-style suits now sells at 40 yuan ($6.35) in many sacrificial offering shops in Guangxiao road, up about 50 percent compared with the price recorded a year ago," a shop owner who revealed only her surname, Chen, said on Thursday.

"And business has been brisk in the past two weeks," she told China Daily.

"The superstitious Cantonese people, who usually pay a great deal of attention to Qingming Festival, which falls on April 4 this year, will buy and burn the paper-made products for their dead ancestors, despite the price hike," said Chen.

"I'm not concerned that business will be affected by the price hike, because few Cantonese will refuse to spend money to worship their ancestors during the festival," she added.

In another shop that sells false bank notes for the dead, the shop owner, surnamed Zhang, said ceremonial money of a bigger face value is selling like hot cakes at the higher price.

"A pile of ceremonial money with a face value of more than 500 billion yuan now sells at 28 yuan, about 10 yuan more than a pile with a smaller face value," he told China Daily.

It seems inflation is as serious in the other world.

Zhang said ceremonial money has reached a face value of 980 billion yuan and it is the new product this year.

In addition to the traditional items, such as paper money, sacrificial articles available in Zhang's store include villas, sedan cars, garments, bras, wine, computers, cameras, watches, cigarettes, seafood, pianos, violins and other "luxury goods", and high-tech products, such as iPhones and iPads.

Even paper-made concubines and nannies have been added to the traditional offerings for the Qingming Festival.

Zhang said the new products would certainly help attract young buyers.

"As society progresses, offerings should also keep pace with the times," he added.

Yi Chongming, a young Guangzhou white-collar worker, said that although prices have increased, he will buy the paper offerings to mourn his grandfather.

"In addition to demonstrating my filial piety to my grandfather, who died of illness two years ago, I hope my grandfather will bless me in the coming months, after I burned 'luxury' paper offerings for him during the festival," Yi said.

And every year across the country, more than 1,000 metric tons of paper products are burned as offerings during the Qingming Festival period, costing more than 10 billion yuan, according to China Consumers' Association.

As Qingming Festival draws near, sales of other festival-related products, including fresh flowers and roasted suckling pigs, have also witnessed big growth in the past weeks.

Zhao Liping, a senior executive from Guangzhou Restaurant Group, said the number of people who ordered roasted suckling pigs has increased 10 percent this year, despite a price hike. A roasted suckling pig now sells at about 648 yuan, up more than 40 percent from a year ago.

Zhao said the price hike was due to increases in wholesale and production costs, chefs' salaries and seasoning.

The prices of fresh flowers have also risen by about 20 percent because of the severe drought that hit Yunnan province and other provinces and regions in Southwest China this year, according to a florist.

A bouquet of lilies, chrysanthemums and carnations is going for between 20 and 60 yuan, a shop owner said.

According to estimates from the Ministry of Civil Affairs, more than 120 million people annually mourn the deceased at graveyards or memorial parks around Qingming Festival.