There is, according to Chinese tradition, a time when the realms of Hell open and the spirits roam on the realm of the living.
On the first day of the seventh Chinese month, the gate of Hell is said to be opened at early midnight every year. Spirits from Hell are then able to return to their homes to see their descendants and partake in grand feasts. The spirits, however, are due to return to hell on the last day of the seventh lunar month.
This period is called the Ghost Month. This year, the Ghost Month is from August 3 to August 31.
During this time, Chinese say it is taboo to:
- Hang clothes outside during the night. Spirits might put them on to sneak into the house.
- Open an umbrella indoor. Doing so, it is believed, will bring in spirits to the house.
- Purchase a new home or move to new house. The spirits might consider the new home as theirs. To escape going back to their realm, they could use the house as their hiding place.
- Swim during the night. Spirits, they say, tend to get attracted to water. Because spirits are thirsty, evil spirits tend to lurk in the waters. If swimming cannot be avoided, one should leave the beach or the swimming pool before sunset.
- Travel. Do not travel by land, sea, or air. Meaning, don’t travel at all because accidents may happen. Although accidents can happen anytime, during this month, it is imperative to be very, very careful.
- Whistle on a quiet street at night. The spirits might catch the attention of spirits roaming around and they might think that you are calling them. So unless you really are planning to see a ghost, don’t whistle.
- Get married. Spirits may place bad curses on couples who will tie the knot and that may bar a happily ever after for the lovers. It is believed that spirits may also crash the wedding party.
Despite these taboos though, remember that the Ghost Month is not about being fearful of the dead. On the contrary, this is the perfect time for you to show respect for them who have moved on to the other side. (Ker Oliva)