In China, spring is a time to think about the past. During Qingming, commonly known as "Tomb-Sweeping Day," millions of Chinese people visit cemeteries to pay tribute to their deceased family members — which in recent years has extended to pets.
The ancient holiday falls on April 4 this year. But for the past two weeks, many people have felt that the dust on the tombs was too much and couldn't wait to give them an early sweeping.
The stories told to Reuters at Baifu Pet Cemetery on the outskirts of Beijing are just lovely. Qingqiu here is visiting the grave of Huoban (which means "partner" in English), her previous dog, with Huoban Jr, her current partner.
The Chinese characters on the gravestone read: "Huoban, we were destined to meet this life, and will see you again next life. We love you forever."
Zhang Xiaoqiu's tomb gets a variety of the dog's favorite stuff when it was alive: toy cars, balloon ball, snacks, and food.
And this man is caring enough to keep the colors of decorative flowers above the tomb of Li Naonao, the former pet dog of the family, separate.
"Gently you left, but will be in my heart forever," the characters on this dog's tomb read.
Liu Dazhuang, the pet dog buried here, may even have been a little spoiled in life. Its owner Ma Ying here cleans the glass case surrounding the grave, which is itself decorated with flowers, a bathtub, and an Angry Bird doll.
The pet tombs are no different than human graves: They have the pets' names, birthdays, death dates, photos, and epitaphs. Pet owners pay at least $300 for the tombs plus an annual fee for maintenance by workers like Zhang Youwang here.
This pet dog, Xixi, was born in March 1998 and passed away on Oct. 27, 2014. The Chinese characters on the gravestone read: "Mommy's only good son." It must have been 16 great years that they spent together.
"For those who never raise a pet, it's indeed hard for them to understand the meaning of this," gravestone designer Zhang Youwang told Reuters, "...but pets are just like people. They are people."