Across China: More Chinese choose fresh-cut flowers for tomb-sweeping

Fresh-cut chrysanthemums fill Zhao Rui's flower shop, as customers flock to purchase bouquets to present to their deceased loved ones on Tomb-sweeping Day.

The holiday, also known as the Qingming Festival, fell on April 5 this year. It is a time when Chinese people pay tribute to the deceased and worship their ancestors.

Zhao's shop is located in the Dounan Flower Market in Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province. The largest fresh-cut flower trading market in Asia has welcomed large batches of yellow and white chrysanthemums, which are commonly used in memorial services in China.

Zhao, 18, recalled when she was a child, her family would take her onto the mountain to sweep the family tomb, present fake flowers and burn paper money.

"Now, fresh-cut flowers are popular for memorials. My family also took many chrysanthemums with them for tomb sweeping," said Zhao.

Before the Qingming Festival, she prepared nearly 5,000 chrysanthemums at 8 a.m., and had sold more than half of them just after 12 p.m. "Usually, I close the store at 9 p.m., but today, I can sell them out and return home at 6 p.m.," she said.

"I have a family member buried in the cemetery. In the past, we burned paper money to pay homage, with paper dust all in the air. But since last year, we have been using fresh-cut flowers, which are both environmentally friendly and safe," said 74-year-old Kunming resident Yang Qingyun, who along with his wife bought 126 chrysanthemums at Zhao's shop.

"Times have changed, and the way of paying homage has changed, but the loving memory for the deceased remains the same," said Yang.

This new trend has even boosted the flower market to some extent.

A week or two before Tomb-sweeping Day, the chrysanthemum market had become heated, and the demand for yellow and white chrysanthemums increased markedly, said Li Junfan, deputy manager of the auction department at the Dounan Flower Electronic Trade Center.

Florists began to prepare flowers half a month in advance, and also introduced packaged bouquets as well as portable flower baskets. In addition, the variety of flowers for memorial services is also increasing, and many flowers with plain colors, such as white roses and carnations, have also become popular choices.

According to Kunming Huaeb Technology Co., Ltd., as of the end of March, the volume of chrysanthemums ranked third on its flower wholesale e-commerce platform.

"We prepared some 300,000 chrysanthemums on last year's Tomb-sweeping Day, but this year, before the day, nearly 750,000 had already been traded," said Chen Bo, co-founder of the company.

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