Ghost Festival – Celebration of Family and History

In the Chinese culture, “Ghost Month” falls every year on the seventh month of the lunar calendar. The legend says that on this month the ghosts and spirits, including those of deceased ancestors, come out from the lower realm. Because Chinese people worship their ancestors, Ghost month is meant to pay homage to their ancestors when the deceased visit the living.

During this month, adults and children face a lot of taboo and must be extremely careful. For example; it is bad to go swimming or play beside any deep water edge as the “water ghost” might drown you; children are not advised to wander around late at night as the “little ghost” might play pranks or possess the children.

The Ghost Festival is celebrated on the 15th night of the seventh lunar month. The conventional thinking of “philanthropy” in China has even been extended on this day to allow those “lonely, without wandering ghost descendants” to enjoy the zeal of the human world. Every household will worship and offer sacrifices to the ancestors and spirits of the unknown world, with food and drinks.

In Taiwan, we call these spirits the “good brothers” and on the Ghost Festival, we “pu du” or worship the realms of the unknown. On the evening of “pu du”, every house’s threshold will lay a table of bumper meals, where each meal has an incense stick on it. This is called the “door worship”. After the worship, “ghost money” is burnt for the spirits to spend and the offerings are removed.

The folk customs for “pu du” has certain conventions and taboos as well, for example, longan fruit are regarded as the “money roll money”, apple as “safe-peace”, dragon-fruit as “business winning streak”, asian-pears as “away from danger”, pomelo as “protection”. The taboo fruits like bananas, pears and plums are not worship together because the Chinese syllable for these items sound like “to beckon” and it is not advisable to beckon or welcome the “good brothers” to one’s own house.

Ghost Festival is one of the most important festivals celebrated among the Chinese culture. Hope everyone enjoys peace and joy!

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