Ghost Month Explained
WHAT’S GHOST MONTH?
In Chinese folk legend, the seventh lunar month is the Ghost Month. It is said that every year on the first day of the seventh lunar month, the gate of hell will be wide open and the ghosts will come out until the gate is closed on the 30th day of the month. For the safety of both ghosts and human beings, China has the tradition of worshipping the dead in lunar July since ancient times. In folk China, people would offer sacrifices on the first, second, fifteenth and last day of the Ghost Month. There are many taboos in the Ghost Month. For example, do not wear the clothes with your name, do not pat other people on the shoulder, do not whistle, children and senior citizens should not go out at night.
|Year||Date of Ghost Festival||Ghost Month|
|2017||September 5th||August 22nd – September 19th|
|2018||August 25th||August 11th – September 9th|
|2019||August 15th||August 1st – August 29th|
For private houses, the Gate of Hell is open on the first day of the Ghost Month, on which ghosts come out to the mortal world and the sacrifice ceremony, grand or simple, is required. The grand sacrifice ceremony means offering a good meal while the simple means of preparing some fruits and desserts to show respect. As the saying goes, there is no such thing as a free lunch. This kind of sacrifice ceremony implies bringing me no trouble once eating my food.
For public places, the Gate of Hell is open on the second day of the Ghost Month. In ancient times, shops and government offices held the sacrifice ceremony one day after the private houses to pray for safety and no mysterious case in the month.
Zhongyuan Festival, also Ghost Festival, falls on the 15th day of the 7th lunar month. In the night (early morning and late night), ghosts get together and evil spirits reach the peak. On this very day, people would burn money and invoke ancestors and ghosts with sacrifice. Likewise, public places sacrifice on the next day, i.e. the 16th day of the 7th lunar month.
On the last day of the 7th lunar month, the Gate of Hell is closed and ghosts go back to the hell from vacation. People offer sacrifice on this day to pray for safety in the rest of days.
DO’S AND DON’TS
In the Ghost Month, evil spirits reach the peak. According to the legend of scapegoat, children, senior citizens, weak or sensitive people should not go out at night, or they will be attacked by the evil spirits. Also, you should keep away from entering the water, especially the sea. In short, you should stay away from risks and supernatural games, especially in the night of Ghost Festival.
Some people often take items to avoid evil spirits with them, such as an amulet, prayer beads, coarse salt, glutinous rice, cross and lodestone with particular energy. It is better to believe the function of these items as long as your normal life is not affected. For many people, they can feel at ease regardless of the effect.