back to article Chinese to burn iPads in upcoming celebrations

Chinese people will burn paper replicas of iPads next week at an annual ceremony called the tomb-sweeping ritual during the Qingming (Pure Brightness) Festival, which celebrates the dead. During the tomb sweeping ritual, which falls on 4 April this year, Chinese people honour their ancestors by burning paper replicas of …


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  1. Khaptain Silver badge

    Voodoo its all voodoo

    Will they also burn little effigies of Steve ?

    The ignorance of mankind knows no limits, sigh.....

    1. Allan George Dyer

      Re: Voodoo its all voodoo

      Well, they also have paper servants, so that the ancestors will have someone to serve them. But these are all mostly used at funerals. Grave sweeping day is generally more restrained, with offerings of paper clothes and money (special Hell currency). The graveyards and collumbariums get very crowded, and the Police have special crowd control measures.

      I hadn't heard the legend before, but the tradition of setting fire to hillsides is still very common - usually accidentally when the intended offerings are left unattended.

      I think you're geography is a little askew, voodoo is totally different continents.

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: Voodoo its all voodoo

        Yes, I agree the the geography is a little askew but the basic principal remains the same.

        Voodoo, Sky Fairies, miracles, devine interventions, devil magic, religious ceremonies, they are all based on one thing "Faith".

        Depending on whos point of view you consider "Faith" can be defined as the opposite of "Reason". Hence the "ignorance of mankind knows no limits", pertaining to the burning of "paper ipads"...............

        To be perfectly honest I have no idea what the Chinese version of Voodoo is called. ( One of our wiser commentards may be able to enlighten us).

        1. Rob

          Re: Voodoo its all voodoo

          In ancient days, the Chinese were the leaders in Necromancy in it's heyday, not quite Voodoo I know.

          1. Frumious Bandersnatch

            Re: Voodoo its all voodoo

            > leaders in Necromancy in it's [sic] day

            Do a search for hopping zombies. Quite an interesting twist on the Haitian style zombies we're more familiar with. Chinese zombie films often make for some quite hilarious viewing.

        2. JDX Gold badge


          I love it when people show their total ignorance of a subject whilst calling others ignorant. It's almost poetry.

          1. Khaptain Silver badge

            Re: @JDX

            Calm down boy, as long as you have "faith" you'll pull through. A good miracle is never far away, strange how any mention of the Sky Fairies et al always seem to knock the followers down to their knees......

            I think history has shown us quite enough examples of how ignorance and blind faith have led to the destruction of so many. The Popes have a lot to answer for...

            And I really don't see the difference between Voodoo and the monotheistic or multitheistic faiths. They are all based on the same element, the complete ignorance of the follower, ignorance = fear, where fear is then used to control the follower.......

            1. ptmmac

              Re: @JDX

              It's really funny how people who blame religion forget what human beings have always been capable of with or with out faith. Religion doesn't cause wars, people use religious ideas to further their political ideas. Using a powerful lever is a powerful way to energize people to do what you want. No church or human institution is free from evil. Try judging religion by the people who don't get in your face and you may find it much more appealing. After all these are the majority of people in religious institutions. It is the people who don't seek the limelight, and practice their faith as a means of personal growth who truly keep human society on its tracks. Even atheists, who work to improve themselves through prayer, have found that it helps them. And yes I do know of more than one atheist who prays daily and finds the practice helps him change himself.

              You feel like people who believe in God are something you should be afraid of. In fact, you are the one who is selling fear, not the people who are honestly praying to do better each day by living according to their best understanding of God's will for them. Are there charlatans out there who use others belief in god to manipulate them? Of course there are. Do you believe that Desmond Tutu, Mahatmas Ghandi, Martin Luther King, or the Dhali Llama are all charlatans who simply used people for their own ends? Could it be that sometimes or even lots of times, people gain wisdom and strength from faith? Maybe you have it backwards. Maybe those who truly live in dangerous places, full of fear and doubt, are unable to live productive lives with out religious ideals and ideas to uplift them and support them. Perhaps religion is not the opiate of the masses, but that atheism is the luxury of the rich, safe, and unburdened.

              What about all the benefits that have come from religion. You know like the idea that there is an objective truth. One god and one truth are actually the same idea. Science did not arise in separate from religion or simply against religion. It arose out of religion. If you look back to the Founding Fathers of the American Constitution, you will see that they believed in God, but not naively in religious institutions. Ultimately, your life will always be based upon faith. You may have some passing understanding of the electricity that runs your house. You do not, nor could you test all the equipment, tools or ideas you believe in by yourself. You trust that the power will work without knowing how Quantum Mechanics really works. Having faith that even if your plans fail that something good will come out of your actions, is not a naive or silly idea. It is fully profound and freeing.

              Please accept this comment in the spirit in which it was made: not to correct or demand belief, but to honestly question the assurance that all that is religious is merely a lie meant to manipulate you.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward


                Wise words indeed, however there is one thing I'd like to get into if you don't mind...

                "Religion doesn't cause wars, people use religious ideas to further their political ideas."

                While this is true there is also no denying that in the end it was the religion itself which provided these people with the tool (the religion itself) to expand on these ideals. Often without question, which I think is the main problem with religion in general; commonly speaking people will never question religion.

                If you take a look at the religion I'm familiar with (the Christian belief) then you'll notice that whatever the bible says is picked up as /the/ truth to base your life on. Whether this is for good or bad isn't my point right now; the issue here is that people will hardly ever question that which is written in the bible because it is an important factor of which they base their believes. It even goes as far as contradiction; there are many stories which contradict each other, yet that is also no problem.

                I think that's a major flaw with religion in general. Humanity didn't evolve by merely accepting everything around us "as is" but by /questioning/; we're a curious species who like to know what is up around us, how things work, what makes things tick, and so on. It is that process which has brought us in this (IMO) wonderful era of a rather advanced technical level.

                And it is also that flaw which has given people within a certain religion enough power to do what they wanted without being questioned. When the Pope demanded that we went on our holy wars to "take back" the "sacred lands" back from the "heathens", did anyone question him? I think some did, but didn't live long to tell the tale. Yet no one would ever question the faith or ideals of the Pope; if there was one man above doubt or suspicion it was surely him.

                What about Luther? All he ever wanted was translate the Bible so that the common people would also be able to grasp the words inside. We all know what happened to him...

                As such I think its too easy to simply blame this on "people" because without the religion and its flaws these people would probably never have been able to carry out their agendas.

                Growing within a 'religious hierarchy' also comes with power. As such I think its also the responsibility of said religion and the ones within that hierarchy to ensure that such power cannot be usurped. Yet /that/ is something you'll never or hardly see happening. And I think /that/ is why many people (myself included) often blame religion as a whole and in general.

                Example; When was the last time where the Pope questioned the ill practices of the "TV preachers" in the States? Where it has been proven that people (ab)use religion in order to generate some huge income for themselves.

          2. Khaptain Silver badge

            Re: @Khaptain

            @JDX I love it when people show their total ignorance of a subject whilst calling others ignorant. It's almost poetry.

            Would you care to extrapolate on this wonderfull piece of wisdom.

        3. Tony Martin

          Re: Voodoo its all voodoo

          It's not voodoo. It's only symbolic in nature, no one really takes it literally. Paying respects for ones ancestors helps shape who you are today and in the future. That is the way of Taoism.

    2. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Voodoo its all voodoo

      Why would their dead want Steve Jobs?

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: Voodoo its all voodoo

        Because Steve was the enlightened leader of all things <font size="3">i.</font>

        for example :

        i-Chi ( The powerfull internal energy )

        i-Ching ( The famous book of destiny - Ok the book of changes).

        ta-i chi ( Chinese Yoga - notice the I just before the chi.......)

        i-deas ( The Chinese word for copyright

        [Can we have the font markups please]

      2. samlebon23

        Re: Voodoo its all voodoo

        I've heard that the Foxcon slaves who killed themselves are after Steve Jobs.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      more useful burning an ipad

      than android tablet, their ancestors would be waiting for ever to get an update.

  2. JaitcH
    Thumb Up

    They've Been Offering iThingies for Years

    The trade in fake travelling money, imitation worldly goods is amazing. The more expensive items are extremely well crafted, one might even say they appear realistic.

    Lat year when I visited HongKong I thought the knock-off iPad was a little cheap even for the Chinese but when I picked one up I realised it was too light in weight to be real.

    If you think this celebration is expensive, you should take in a Chinese funeral. I have seen hundreds of dollars worth of the finest food put into the grave, along with other expensive items. They also pour many bottles of expensive wine or cognac on the grave to ensure the late departed will have enough for their journey.

    People shouldn't knock it, it's tradition. Even people in the West have been buried with worldly goodies including cars.

    The Asian cultures respect their forebears far more than do Western cultures, so perhaps they are on to a worthwhile tradition. When did other readers visit their parents or grandparents graves last?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      People shouldn't knock it, it's tradition.

      Tradition is not a get out of jail free card for burying food that the living could use far more effectively.

    2. perlcat

      Re: They've Been Offering iThingies for Years

      "When did other readers visit their parents or grandparents graves last?"

      Last May. Visited my grandmothers', grandfather's, and my great, great, great, great grandfather's graves. Pondered a bit on how transitory life is, and how the short time we have here can be either used to be a blessing to others, or as a troll on teh interwebz. Decided to do both.

  3. Andrew Moore


    That is really one screwed up origin story.

    1. perlcat

      Re: Wow

      I'll say.

      "Gee, I wanted to thank you for your sacrifice. OK if I burn down the place where you moved to live in private to 'smoke you out'?"

      Surely the phrase he said before doing that was "Hold my plum wine, and watch *this*!"

  4. Dazed and Confused


    Watch that share price soar

  5. Robert E A Harvey

    fooling the gods

    I used to work on cable laying ships, and whenever we dropped a splice in the water off China, the client rep would throw a handful of "luck money" into the water. If even one bit blew back onto the ship we had to grapple for the cable again, cut and re-splice it, and drop it again ditto.

    This "luck money" is essentially worthless photocopies of currency, to give the Gods. Are Chinese gods so easily fooled? It would appear to be the opposite of Omnipotence to me.

    1. Jedit Silver badge

      It's symbolic

      The idea is that the fake items in this world translate to the real thing in the spirit world. So the luck money becomes legal tender to the gods, and all those paper iPads become fully functional iPads in the afterlife. Of course, they still can't get a 4G signal, but I suppose nothing is perfect.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's symbolic

        Now you have me worried, anyone know any roll-out plans for decent LTE in the afterlife, I'm a bit panicky that I'm not going to get decent broadband once I shuffle of this plane of existence.

        I'm might go and find an ISP to burn down just to make sure it's there for when I arrive.

        1. sisk

          Re: It's symbolic

          Build yourself a cell phone tower out of paper and set fire to it. That should take care of it.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: It's symbolic

            I don't suppose you have a spec for an LTE enabled paper tower handy? ;-)

      2. Robert E A Harvey

        Re: It's symbolic (@Jedit 09:11)

        >all those paper iPads become fully functional iPads in the afterlife

        Interesting idea, of course. If we could modify that 'technology' maybe worthless euros in germany could become fully functional currency in Greece?

        Instead of the other way around.

  6. Rob

    How long...

    ... before some stats company adds all these burnt paper iPads to the Apple activation figures.

    Well at least the rounded corners should help reduce the cause of paper cuts.

  7. Travis Hayler

    iPads for ex-Foxconn workers in the afterlife...

    Burning paper iPads hmmm...

    Surely some of the dead used to work at Foxconn, doubt they would want an iPad or iPhone in the afterlife...


  8. Jeebus

    Surely burning the iPad and iPhone mock-ups is to remind those who committed suicide because of Apple that even in the afterlife they have to work forever to never be able to afford one.

  9. Cunningly Linguistic

    I'm surprised that...

    ...Apple haven't gone after those printing pictures of the rounded corners.

  10. Ben Rosenthal

    Well I hope there is 4g in the afterlife or they're going to be raining back down on us over the next few days :/

  11. Robert Carnegie Silver badge


    expected to get a signal in Heaven. (It is supposed to be the last thing that he said, but it is doubtful.)

    I was alarmed that they were burning actual iPads, that would be not environmental.

    According to a recently discredited documentary, this ceremony would be as close as they got to owning one.

  12. Gazareth

    "Determined to thank him, the King burned down the forest in the hope of smoking him out so he could find him. Sadly Jie and his elderly mother died in the fire."

    Is it wrong that I find that utterly hilarious?

    Sounds like something from a Douglas Adams novel!

  13. Frumious Bandersnatch

    $3.20 for a paper iPad?

    Does that include any apps?

    1. Crisp

      Re: $3.20 for a paper iPad?

      No, but you can get a biro app that will enable you to take notes on your new ipad for only a few pence!

    2. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: $3.20 for a paper iPad?

      If nothing else, on the reverse side there are printed instructions detailing how to hold the piece of paper correctly.

    3. samlebon23

      Re: $3.20 for a paper iPad?


  14. Jimbo 6

    "cutting out some of his own thigh to make Chong'er a meat soup"

    And I thought the boss expecting me to give him my Facebook password was bad...

    1. perlcat

      Re: "cutting out some of his own thigh to make Chong'er a meat soup"

      Yeah, but you have no idea how hard it was to smoke it for the Emperor's friend, Cheech'er.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now that is the kind of loyalty no longer found...

    and to think that this King will end up killing him and his Mum, he should have come back from the dead and demand Chong'er to cough up his tight back.

  16. sisk

    Scarey thought

    Most of the ancestors would have been around long before the modern era. If our grandparents had trouble with technology can you imagine the poor guy who's expiration date was 150 years ago trying to use an iPad?

    1. samlebon23

      Re: Scarey thought

      They get training.

  17. samlebon23

    I am very rich, I am going to torch an IBM Blue Gene computer.

  18. samlebon23

    Sorry, I wanted to say:

    I am very rich, I am going to torch an IBM Blue Gene computer for my ancestors.

  19. samlebon23

    Or they should burn a PC with Microsoft Windows BSD Edition.

  20. Sloppy Crapmonster

    Dead Steve Jobs says

    You're burning it wrong.

  21. Lockwood

    Just think about this tradition in a more global sense.

    All these angry Afghan people are sending their glorious honoured dead American flags!

  22. Suburban Inmate

    I'm too "out of it"

    ... to read all, but it is just a tradition in china to burn paper replicas of stuff. It does NOT signify hatred. It is just sending stuff to the spirit world and done in good spirit. Personally I'm not a believer in any faith but that's beside the point. If people of faith want to have their ceremonies, go ahead :)

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