Ghost Month – Zhong Yuan Jie 鬼月
Ghost Month 鬼月 is the 7th month of the lunar calendar. The 15th day is called Ghost Day. Ghost Month is recognized in most Asian countries, but the rituals and customs related to the holiday may differ.
During Ghost Month, it is believed that the gates of hell, or the underworld, are opened so ghosts and spirits of the deceased may join the living. Many of these ghosts are believed to be ancestors of those who neglected a proper funeral ritual or did not show respect after their deaths. They enter the world for entertainment and food in ways that only a ghost can see or enjoy.
In Taiwan, temples become the busiest places during the ghost month. People are constantly visiting to burn joss sticks, paper money, and to say prayers for the dead.To ensure that the ghosts enjoy a pleasant vacation, lavish sacrifices are also set out in front of homes and businesses. Paper money is burned in small special containers which are sometimes huge cages the size of cars. These containers may be in front of a residence or in a nearby vacant lot.
Firecrackers are lit daily and traditional Taiwanese operas are performed. Temples will set up movie screens and projectors to show classic movies or puppet shows about Chinese gods to entertain any ghosts that may be nearby. Many Taiwanese are also very supersticious during this time. Many Taiwanese avoid, buying a new house or car, getting married, having surgery, traveling, swimming, whistling, or even going out after dark. On the final day of the month, the doors to the underworld close and the spirits return to their homes until the following year.