If you’re wondering why travel, weddings and important contract negotiations might wane these next few weeks among your Chinese friends, wonder no more. Today, August 3, is the start of the Hungry Ghost Month or simply, the Ghost Month.
Ghost Month falls every year on the seventh month of the Lunar Year, specifically the 15th day of the seventh month. In 2016, this starts today, Aug. 3, and runs until Aug. 31.
Buddhists and Taoists believe that during this period, the spirits come out to visit the living. Those with families visit their families; those without families roam the streets. In many Chinese homes, the ancestors’ altars will have food constantly placed before it. Some would set an extra plate on the dining table with food for their deceased relatives. Joss sticks would be lit or joss paper burned to please the spirits.
Depending on which Asian country you are from, the DO’s and DON’Ts could vary. Here in the Philippines, those observing the Ghost Month follow these DON’Ts:
- Travelers postpone their sea/air travels
- There are almost no Chinese weddings during this period
- Businessmen do not open new businesses, sign new contracts, or make big decisions
- Homeowners postpone moving to a new home
- Those about to undergo medical procedures, including surgery, postpone them till after this period passes
Of course, being Catholic, I believe there is nothing stronger than having faith in God. After all, He is in control of everything and nothing happens without Him knowing. Still, since Chinese traditions and culture are deeply ingrained in our Filipino culture, we must understand and respect these, as well as all other customs found in our country. Our country is a melting pot of different and interesting cultures and traditions. It is what enriches the Philippines.
Do you observe Ghost Month or know of any other customs I have not mentioned? Please share these with me.