Ghost Month: Things To Know
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Ghost Month is a traditional Chinese belief that occurs during the seventh month of the lunar calendar. This month is believed to be a time when the gates of the afterlife open, allowing spirits and ghosts to return to the world of the living. The specific dates of Ghost Month vary each year, as they are based on the lunar calendar, but it usually falls between late July and early August.
Here are some common beliefs and practices associated with Ghost Month:
- Ancestral veneration: During Ghost Month, people pay respects to their deceased ancestors by offering food, incense, and other offerings at ancestral altars or gravesites. This is done to ensure the well-being and protection of the deceased ancestors’ spirits.
- Ghosts seeking offerings: Not all spirits during Ghost Month are considered benevolent. It is believed that some wandering and hungry ghosts may have no living descendants to offer them food and other essentials. As a result, people may also make offerings on the streets, at temples, or by riversides to appease these wandering spirits and prevent them from causing mischief.
- Avoiding risky activities: Many people believe that the realms of the living and the dead are closer during Ghost Month, making it a dangerous time to undertake risky activities such as moving into a new home, starting a business, or getting married. These activities are often postponed until after the month has passed.
- Burning of “Joss Paper”: Joss paper, also known as ghost money, is burned as offerings to the deceased during Ghost Month. The paper is believed to have value in the afterlife and is often burned in the form of fake money or items such as houses, cars, and other material possessions to provide comfort to the spirits of the deceased.
- Lighting of lanterns: In some regions, people release floating lanterns into the sky or set them afloat on rivers during Ghost Month as a way to guide and light the way for wandering spirits.
- Avoiding water-related activities: Drowning accidents are said to be more likely to occur during Ghost Month. As a precaution, people may avoid swimming or engaging in water-related activities during this time.
- Avoiding staying out late: It is believed that wandering spirits are more active at night during Ghost Month. To avoid encounters with malevolent spirits, people may choose to stay indoors and avoid being out late at night.
- Cleansing rituals: Some people perform cleansing rituals and prayers to ward off negative energies and protect themselves from unwanted spiritual influences during Ghost Month.
It’s important to note that while these beliefs are deeply rooted in Chinese culture and are followed by many, not everyone adheres to these practices. The observance of Ghost Month can vary depending on personal beliefs and regional customs.