All About Daily Albany AUS News

Joss Paper - Burning Ancestor Money

Mar 12

The practice of burning ancestor money is one of the oldest and most interesting traditions still practiced in many cultures today. This ancient ritual has a long history, going back centuries in some countries, and is still an important part of honoring their ancestors. But what exactly does this practice entail and why do people continue to do it? In this article, we’ll dive into the fascinating world of ancestor money burning, exploring its history and purpose as well as how it might be relevant to us today.

Burning ancestor money is a practice that dates back hundreds if not thousands of years. Many cultures have used this ceremony to honor deceased relatives and pay respect to their ancestors. The act of burning paper money or other objects is believed to help transfer wealth from the living to those who have passed away in spirit form. The tangible items that are burned are often symbols of abundance, such as gold coins or jewelry, which represent the material wealth that will be bestowed upon those who receive it.

It’s easy to see why this tradition continues to be so popular among many different cultures around the world; it provides a way for people to show love and gratitude for those who have gone before them and ensure that their wishes for prosperity are fulfilled even after they’re gone. As we explore the history and evolution of ancestor money burning, we can gain insight into how this ancient practice still serves a meaningful purpose today.


Burning ancestor money, also known as ghost money or joss paper, is a form of offering and tribute to ancestors practiced in many East Asian cultures. It involves burning hell bank notes, which are paper imitations of currency, along with burning incense to honor the deceased.

The practice is rooted in the belief that offering monetary gifts and items to the dead will help them lead a better afterlife. This can be done through prayers, rituals and offerings such as burning ancestor money. The amount of money burned depends on the wealth of the family; often times it is more than what one would use for daily needs.

This tradition has been passed down for many generations and is still observed by those who believe in honoring their ancestors’ spirits. The act of burning ancestor money serves as a way to remember the dead, give thanks for their sacrifices and ensure that they continue to be taken care of in the afterlife. Ultimately, this practice symbolizes respect for those who have gone before us and reminds us that we should never take life for granted.

History Of The Practice

Burning Joss Paper

The practice of burning ancestor money is one that has been around for thousands of years. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, burning ancestor money is an ancient ritual that holds deep meaning and carries with it a powerful message. It symbolizes respect and reverence for our ancestors, and serves as a way to honor them in death. Here’s a brief look at the history of this practice:

  • Ancestor veneration has been practiced in many cultures since antiquity.
  • Burning spirit money as offerings to deceased relatives was first documented in China during the Zhou Dynasty (1046–256 BC).
  • In East Asian cultures, burnt offerings are made to ancestors during ancestral worship ceremonies.
  • It is believed that these offerings will help the deceased have a better afterlife.

Burning ancestor money is still practiced today by many people around the world. It is an important part of many cultures and religions, and helps keep alive the memory of our beloved ancestors. By honoring them through this ritualistic practice, we keep their memory alive in our hearts and minds and show our appreciation for all they have done for us throughout their lives. We can find solace in knowing that our spiritual offerings are being received by those who meant so much to us here on Earth.

Cultural Significance

Burning ancestor money is an important part of Chinese funeral traditions. This ritual offering of paper money is conducted as part of the funeral rites to honor the deceased’s ancestors. It is seen as a way to ensure that the deceased’s soul will reach their ancestral home in peace and comfort.

The burning of ancestor money highlights the importance of ancestral worship in Chinese culture, which is believed to bring good fortune and blessings from past generations. The paper offerings are designed to symbolize material wealth and spiritual nourishment for the departed soul in the afterlife. It is believed that by burning these offerings, they will be taken up into heaven, allowing the spirit of the deceased to be reunited with their ancestors.

In this way, burning ancestor money serves as a powerful reminder of our connection with our ancestors, even after death. This practice also helps us remember that we are all connected through time and space, and can draw strength from those who came before us.

Reasons For Burning Money

Transitioning from the previous section, burning money is a powerful cultural practice that has many different meanings. Most commonly, it is seen as a way to honor the deceased and appease their ancestral spirits in order to ensure they are taken care of in the afterlife. Burning ancestor money is an integral part of many death rituals and funeral customs around the world, as people often believe that their ancestors will receive great satisfaction from these sacrifices.

There are several reasons why people burn money at funerals or other memorial services. In some cultures, it is believed that burning money can help pay for the deceased’s journey into the afterlife. Money may also be burned to represent a person’s wealth being passed on to their ancestors or as an offering of gratitude for all that they have given. The burning of money can also symbolize a person’s desire for their ancestors to continue living happily in the afterlife.

Burning money can also be seen as an act of devotion towards one’s ancestors, showing respect and appreciation for all they have done throughout their lives and beyond. Other times, it can serve as a reminder to remember one’s heritage and stay connected with those who have gone before us. Whatever the reason may be, burning ancestor money remains an important part of many cultures and helps us stay connected with our past while we move forward into our future.

Preparation And Rituals Involved

Burning of ancestor money is a traditional Chinese cultural practice that has been around for centuries. It is based on Taoist beliefs and follows Chinese folk religion, with beliefs about the afterlife, and ghost culture being deeply entrenched. This ritual is typically performed during special festivals or important family occasions such as weddings or funerals, and sometimes even during times like the Lunar New Year.

The preparations for this ritual involve getting the necessary items ready. These include paper money, incense sticks, joss paper, and food offerings. The paper money should be specially printed with images of deities or symbols associated with luck and fortune such as dragons and phoenixes. The incense sticks are lit to pay respect to the ancestors while the joss paper is burned so that it can reach them in the spirit world. The food offerings are used to give thanks to the ancestors for their protection and guidance.

Lastly, a prayer will be said by all gathered before the burning begins. This prayer serves both as a way of expressing gratitude for all that has been received from the ancestors, but also asking for their continued blessings in life going forward. After this prayer is done and offerings have been laid out, it is then time to begin burning the ancestor money so that these blessings may come true.

Health And Safety Concerns

Burning ancestor money, a common practice in Chinese spirituality and traditional Chinese religion, has been around for centuries. Although it is an integral part of cultural heritage and buddhist beliefs, there are health and safety concerns that should not be overlooked.

To start, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), burning incense releases particles of carbon monoxide which can cause significant health problems. In fact, studies show that prolonged exposure to burning incense can increase the chances of developing cancer. Additionally, inhaling the smoke produced from burning incense has been linked to respiratory conditions such as asthma and bronchitis.

When it comes to safety concerns, there is always the risk of fire. It is important to take precautions when handling lit materials near flammable objects or surfaces. Other than that, one should take care not to place anything too close to the flame or smolder so as not to get burned or suffer a burn injury.

Here are some key points about health and safety when it comes to burning ancestor money:

  • Prolonged exposure can increase the chances of developing cancer
  • Inhaling smoke from burning incense has been linked with respiratory conditions such as asthma and bronchitis
  • Take precautions when handling lit materials near flammable objects or surfaces
  • Take care not to place anything too close to the flame or smolder so as not to get burned or suffer a burn injury

Therefore, it is always important for one engaging in this practice to be mindful about their own safety and well-being as well as those around them. By following these simple guidelines, practitioners will be able to enjoy this spiritual tradition without any major risks or hazards present.

Environmental Impact

Burning ancestor money has a significant environmental impact. The smoke that is released when burning paper money contains toxic particles and gases, contributing to air pollution. In addition, burning paper money releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which contributes to global warming. The ashes from the burned money can also contain heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, and mercury that are harmful to humans.

The chemicals used in the production of currency are also considered hazardous materials when released into the environment. Currency paper is often made with chlorine-bleached pulp, containing dioxin which is a known carcinogen. Furthermore, printing inks used in modern currencies often contain harmful compounds such as lead and cadmium. These toxins can enter the water supply and cause health problems for humans and animals alike.

The environmental impacts of burning ancestor money can be reduced by using alternative methods such as burying or returning it to its place of origin. Additionally, more eco-friendly printing processes should be implemented so that less hazardous materials are used in the production of currency paper and ink. Taking steps to reduce our environmental impact will help ensure a healthier world for future generations.

How To Dispose Of Unburned Money Properly

The smoke from burning ancestor money can have a negative effect on the environment, but what should you do with the unburned money? Proper disposal of the remaining cash is essential to making sure it does not end up in landfills or the ocean. Here are three steps for disposing of unburned money properly.

The first step is to make sure all currency is collected and stored in an airtight container. This will protect the currency from rain, wind, sunlight, and other elements that may damage it over time. Additionally, having all of the cash stored in one place makes it easier to transport to a recycling facility.

The second step is to locate a recycling center that accepts burned or damaged currency. Many cities offer special services that accept currency for recycling. These centers usually provide secure containers where cash can be dropped off without worry of theft or damage. Additionally, many recyclers provide tax credits on recycled paper products like currency bills in order to incentivize people to recycle their damaged cash instead of throwing it away.

Finally, once at a recycling center, simply drop off your container of unburned money and let them take care of the rest! The recycler will shred and recycle the currency into new paper products such as office supplies or construction materials. This process helps reduce waste and keeps our environment clean and healthy for future generations.

Beliefs About Burnt Money In Different Cultures

Money has long been a source of fascination and confusion for all of us. But what happens when it’s burned? Well, depending on the culture you come from, there are different beliefs about burning money.

In some cultures, burning money is believed to bring luck and good fortune. This is especially true in East Asian countries like China and Japan, where burning paper money is traditionally done during special events or ceremonies as an offering to ancestors and gods.

In other cultures, however, burning money is seen as a sign of disrespect or even bad luck. For instance, in some African countries such as Cameroon and Nigeria, it’s considered taboo to burn money because of its spiritual significance. Burning currency notes can also be seen as a sign of protest in certain parts of the world.

No matter how you look at it, burning money will always be an interesting topic that sparks debates around the world. It may be seen differently by different people but one thing remains certain: burning ancestor money should never be taken lightly!

Experiences And Perspectives Of People Who Have Practiced It

Moving on from the beliefs about burnt money in different cultures, it is important to consider the experiences and perspectives of people who have practiced it. Many individuals across various societies have engaged in this custom for various reasons.

For some, burning ancestor money is an act of honor and respect, a way to show their gratitude for all that their ancestors have done for them. This could include honoring them with offerings of food and other items that they can no longer enjoy in this life. In some cases, burning ancestor money is also seen as a way to connect with those who have passed away, allowing the living to offer spiritual comfort and support to their departed loved ones.

Others may choose to burn ancestor money as a form of ritual purification or protection against bad luck or evil spirits. In these cases, it is believed that the smoke created by burning will either protect against evil forces or cleanse one’s home or person of negative energies or evil spirits. Burning ancestor money also serves as an offering and sacrifice to higher powers in many religions, with practitioners hoping that such acts will bring good fortune or blessings upon themselves and their families.

Whatever the reason behind burning ancestor money may be, it has been part of cultural practices around the world for centuries and continues to be today. For those who practice it, there are often deeply personal motivations at play - from honoring ancestors to seeking protection from unseen forces - all of which help shape how we interact with this ancient tradition.

Social Responsibilities Regarding Burning Ancestor Money

Burning ancestor money is a complex issue that requires consideration from many perspectives. There are social and cultural implications that should be taken into account when deciding whether or not to burn ancestor money.

On the one hand, burning ancestor money may be seen as a way of honouring the ancestors who have come before us, and showing respect for their memory. In some cultures, this practice can be deeply rooted in tradition, and it could be seen as an act of remembrance and gratitude. On the other hand, burning ancestor money can also carry with it certain risks. This includes potential financial losses that could result from burning large amounts of currency - especially if the currency is no longer in circulation or has lost its value due to inflation or other economic factors.

In any case, it is important for individuals to consider their own responsibilities when deciding whether or not to burn ancestor money. It is essential to think about how our actions will affect others and how they could potentially impact our own lives and those of our families. Additionally, we must ensure that we are acting within the scope of the law and taking all necessary precautions to avoid any potential harm or financial loss through burning ancestor money. Ultimately, it is important to approach this practice with respect, thoughtfulness, and caution.


In conclusion, burning ancestor money is a tradition that has been practiced for centuries and holds cultural significance. It is a meaningful way to honor our ancestors and show respect for the dead. Though it may seem strange or even wasteful to some, this practice has a deep-seated symbolism that inspires reverence.

I feel privileged to have experienced this ritual firsthand, as it truly opened my eyes to the power of honoring the past in such a unique way. Furthermore, it has made me aware of my social responsibility to ensure that these traditions are respected and preserved for future generations. Burning ancestor money is more than just an act of burning paper; it’s an ancient symbol of respect, love and gratitude that will live on forever in our memories.



  1. Ancestor money: A form of joss paper or spirit money that is burned as an offering to ancestors in traditional Chinese culture. It is believed that burning ancestor money helps provide wealth and comfort to the deceased in the afterlife.

  2. Ghost money: Another term for joss paper or spirit money that is burned to honor and appease deceased ancestors.

  3. Joss paper: A type of paper used in Chinese traditional religions and Taoist beliefs for rituals, particularly for burning as offerings to ancestors.

  4. Hell bank notes: Paper money made specifically for burning as offerings to ancestors or spirits in the afterlife, resembling actual banknotes and usually featuring the image of a Chinese deity or a Chinese-style mansion.

  5. Burning incense: A common practice in Chinese traditional religions, Taoist beliefs, and Buddhist beliefs, where incense sticks are burned as a form of offering to ancestors, deities, or Buddhas.

  6. Chinese funeral traditions: The customs, practices, and rituals associated with traditional Chinese funerals, which often involve ancestor veneration, the burning of offerings, and elaborate ceremonies.

  7. Ancestor veneration: The practice of showing respect and worship to one's ancestors or deceased loved ones, often through offerings and rituals.

  8. Chinese cultural practices: The various customs and traditions that are part of Chinese culture, including ancestor veneration, feng shui, and Chinese New Year celebrations.

  9. Afterlife beliefs: The beliefs and traditions surrounding the concept of the afterlife in Chinese traditional religions and Taoist, Buddhist, and Confucian beliefs.

  10. Ritual offerings: Items that are burned or presented as offerings to ancestors, deities, or spirits in various religious practices.

  11. Funeral rites: The customs and ceremonies performed before, during, and after a funeral, often including offerings to honor and appease the deceased.

  12. Ancestral worship: The practice of honoring and paying respect to one's ancestors or deceased loved ones through rituals and offerings.

  13. Taoist beliefs: The religious and philosophical beliefs of Taoism, which include a focus on balance, harmony, and nature, and the belief in various deities and spirits.

  14. Buddhist beliefs: The religious and philosophical beliefs of Buddhism, which emphasize the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, and the belief in reincarnation and karma.

  15. Confucianism: A philosophical and ethical system that emphasizes the importance of education, social harmony, and morality, and includes a focus on ancestor veneration and respect for elders.

  16. Chinese folk religion: A term used to describe the diverse and varied religious practices and beliefs that are commonly practiced in Chinese communities, including ancestor veneration and the worship of deities and spirits.

  17. Spirit money: A form of joss paper or ghost money used as an offering to honor and appease deceased ancestors or spirits.

  18. Paper offerings: A type of offering made of paper that is burned as a form of worship or tribute to ancestors or deities.

  19. Burnt offerings: Items that are burned as a form of offering to deities or ancestors in various religious practices.

  20. Funeral customs: The traditions and practices associated with funerals in different cultures, including the burning of offerings and ceremonies to honor the deceased.

  21. Death rituals: The ceremonies and customs performed before, during, and after a person's death, often including offerings and rituals to help guide the soul of the deceased to the afterlife.

  22. Afterlife offerings: Offerings made to deceased loved ones or ancestors to provide comfort and wealth in the afterlife.

  23. Ancestor worship ceremonies: Ceremonies and rituals performed to honor and pay respect to one's ancestors