A Guide to The Crazy World of Chinese Spiritual Offerings

burning fake iphones for ancestors

Imagine this. You’re fighting valiantly against cancer. You’re enjoying your second bucket of KFC. Or you’ve begun crossing the street without looking both ways. Cancer wins, you get a heart attack, and an 18 wheeler comes out of nowhere. Game over. You’re dead. Life as you knew it comes to an end. Your spirit decends or ascends to the afterlife chosen for you. Maybe you’ve been good and can chill with Mr Rogers and his lovely neighborhood. Or maybe you’ve taken the lord’s name in vain one time too many. Regardless of it, you’re dead. What will the afterlife look like? You don’t know. And there isn’t much that you can do to change it. Or maybe there is… A traditional Chinese ritual says that you can, in fact have a lavish life after death. It’s a little tradition involving Chinese spiritual offerings. And with them, hell can get a lot more comfortable. Let’s dive in.

What Are Chinese Spiritual Offerings?

gold ingot on fire

According to Ancient Chinese tradition going back thousands of years, dead ancestors continue to live on in the afterlife. And even though they’ve died, you still need to take care of them! You don’t want to piss them off since dead, unhappy ancestors could bring ruin to your family. All you need to do was keep them comfortable in the afterlife. You could do this in a number of ways. Burning incense is a widely-practiced tradition. Giving them an offering of food is another. Maybe even offering them a drink. Yes, you heard right. “Pouring one for the homies”? Possibly from Chinese culture. But there’s one common aspect of these Chinese spiritual offerings that you can’t miss…

Hell Bank Notes

Joss Paper money for Chinese spiritual offerings
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Money. It makes the world go round, and apparently, also the underworld. Burning fake money to “send” to the afterlife is the backbone of these Chinese spiritual offerings, and is widely done. These come in crazy denominations, starting as low as 10,000, and ranging in excess of 8 billion dollars. If only it was this easy in real life. But then the Chinese said “why stop there?”. Why did they need to just burn fake money?

Pimp My Ride, Afterlife Edition

joss paper car
Source: Youtube

That moment of realization changed everything. People in China, eager to make a quick buck, decided they could market other combustible products to “send” to the afterlife. Laptop? TV? A house? A car? All perfect gifts to send along with 100 trillion dollars to your grandmother. Elaborate cars can be set ablaze. Even replicas of the latest Samsung Note smartphone, complete with headphones, cables, and spare battery, can all be set ablaze in a scene reminiscent of the 2016 exploding phone incidents.

Here are a list of some things that people burn to “send” to their ancestors:

  • Cars (generally nice ones. Toyota Corollas aren’t too popular in heaven)
  • Food (expensive foods)
  • Papier mâché houses

joss paper guns

  • Electronic devices, including smartphones, tablets, computers, and televisions
  • Gold bars
  • Credit cards, passports, and traveller’s checks
  • Pictures of attractive women, condoms, and male enhancement pills

burnable anime waifu

Yes, you read that right. They burned Viagra. To send to their ancestors. Kind of messed up if you ask me. It was so messed up that the government enacted measures to curb this “immoral” behavior. If you died, what would you want your loved ones to send you? Let us know in the comments below!