TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Funeral workers on Sunday (Aug. 29) found a large amount of cash being burned along with joss money at a crematorium in southwestern Taiwan, scrambling to salvage over NT$200,000 (US$6,897) that they then turned over to police.
Funeral service practitioners said they were tending a fire where joss money and the clothes of the dead were being burned at the Chiayi City Mortuary Services Office on Sunday, when they noticed something amiss, CNA reported. As they were tending the flames, the workers found stacks of red envelopes containing NT$1,000 bills tucked inside some clothes.
At first, they thought the bills were fake, but as they looked more carefully, they found they were real and hurried to get them out of the pit.
The workers said the congratulatory message of “happy new year” was printed on the envelopes and that it was likely the relatives missed this when preparing the clothes.
The workers turned the salvaged banknotes over to a local police station, where they were counted out to the tune of NT$205,900. Police then put the money up as lost property, per CNA.
Chiayi City Mortuary Services Office Director Lu Chun-lin (盧春霖) said that according to folk customs, relatives burn joss money and the clothes of the deceased for use in heaven.
However, grieving relatives may be distracted, and sometimes cash and jewelry can go up in flames, he added.