Ghost Month 2022

07/29/2022 – 08/26/2022 @ All Day –

Taiwan’s Ghost Month is observed on the 7th month of the lunar calendar, which changes each year, though it’s typically celebrated around August.

Ghost Festival
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Ghost Month 2022

Taiwan’s Ghost Month is observed on the 7th month of the lunar calendar, which changes each year, though it’s typically celebrated around August.

The Hungry Ghost Festival is on August 12, 2022.
Ghost Month is from July 29, 2022, to August 26, 2022.

Once again, the Ghost Month Festivals have officially begun in Taiwan (on August 19th) and there has been a rush to purchase enough ghost money to last until the Gates of Hell close for another year, on September 16th.

As for 2022, Ghost Month begins on July 29th and ends on August 26th, but it’s officially celebrated during the Hungry Ghost Festival, which is on August 12th.

What Ghost month?

Taiwan’s Ghost Month is observed on the 7th month of the lunar calendar, which changes each year, though it’s typically celebrated around August.

During this time, Taoists and Buddhists believe that the gates of hell are opened for “hungry ghosts” to roam the world. These lost souls are believed to have been sent to the underworld to suffer an eternal state of hunger for their misdeeds or for not having a proper burial.

A Brief History of Ghost Month

Religions in Taiwan are a cultural melting-pot of various scriptures and ideologies, and the same is true for Ghost Month. Originally starting as a day to honor ancestors, it soon evolved once Buddhism was introduced to China where it became known as the Yu Lan Peng Festival. Taoists on the other hand refer to the festival as Zhongyuan Jie.

Regardless of what it’s called, the common consensus is that it originated from Buddhist scriptures. One of the origin stories explains that the Buddha’s disciple, Mulian, traveled to hell on July 15th of the Lunar calendar to offer food in exchange for his mother’s release. His prayers were answered, and she was released from hell, leading to the tradition that we have today.

How Ghost Month Celebrated

The Mid-Summer Ghost Festival begins on the first day of the 7th lunar month. For the next 12 days, lanterns are lit and colored threads are placed on the alters.

On the 13th day, the Ying Dou Deng procession takes place, followed by the water lantern procession by the seashore on the 14th. The water lanterns are aimed to guide the wandering souls toward the temples where their offerings will be waiting for them. The processions of Ghost Month culminate in an event known as the Hungry Ghost Festival on the 15th day.

During the event, spirits are offered a multitude of food, including various types of meat, dumplings, fruits, and vegetables. Later in the evening after the ghosts have taken their full, the living will eat the offerings for dinner.

Ghost Month Superstitious Taboos – What Not to Do!

The Taiwanese are typically very superstitious, and the belief in ghosts is commonplace. As such, Ghost Month has a litany of rules and taboos that must be adhered to.

These are in place not only to respect the dead but also to ensure that they don’t take your soul!

Here are 20 rules that should be followed throughout Ghost Month – especially at night as the gates of hell are believed to be wide open during this time.

1. Don’t go swimming:

Like the stuff of nightmares, those who unwisely go swimming during this month might be dragged down to the depth by the spirits that lay within.

These unfortunate souls are the ones who drowned themselves, so taking you down with them gives these spirits a second chance at life, so they’ll be pretty determined.

2. Don’t turn if tapped on your shoulder:

If someone taps you on the shoulder, your first reaction is to turn around and see who did it. Unfortunately, you might find out that a ghost was responsible!

If you must turn round then you must turn your whole body, not just turn your head. If you were to do that, you’ll be extinguishing one of the two protective flames that sit on the shoulders of the living.

That also means that YOU shouldn’t tap anyone on the shoulder, as you’ll be putting out one of these flames too!

3. Don’t schedule anything important:

The entirety of Ghost Month is pretty uneventful, as many people avoid big life changes during this time. That includes marriages, buying or moving into a new place, starting a business, buying a car, or even visiting the hospital…so best pray to the gods for good health.

That means it’s actually a great buyer’s market during this month as housing sales plummet and people avoid any transfer of ownership, renovations, or even paperwork during this time. So it’s perhaps the perfect time for non-believers to buy!

4. Don’t hang out clothes:

Hopefully, you have plenty of room and a decent dehumidifier in your house, because you’ll have to hang those clothes inside!

If you do, spirits will be tempted to wear those trendy threads and comfortable yoga pants of yours to keep themselves warm. It’s also the perfect way for them to disguise themselves so they can sneak into your home.

5. Don’t take the last bus or train:

Locals believe that the first and last transport of the day harbors the strongest yin (bad) energy. Therefore, unless you want to be taken to the afterlife by a phantom driver, try to get there on time.

6. Don’t take photos at night:

Unfortunately for photographers and Instagram attention seekers, you better leave that camera at home during the evening.

If you unwisely take some photos when the sun has set, then you might find an unwelcome photobomber who’ll come along to ruin your pic and leave you with nightmares for years to come.

7. Don’t whistle:

Whistling along is a big no-no. Your catchy melodies are said to attract spirits who like the sounds you’re making; thus they’ll keep following you.

8. Don’t contact any walls:

Its believed that spirits like to congregate next to walls as a way to keep cool. So don’t lean on or be near a wall.

9. Don’t pee on a tree:

Spirits prefer to congregate in cooler, shaded areas, thus being below the canopy of leaves is the perfect place for them. Naturally, peeing all over the nearby spirits will not be taken too kindly, and they’ll seek vengeance on the unfortunate pisser.

Locals will even specifically prune overgrown trees and bushes before Ghost Month to limit their areas of relaxation. If Ghost Month is already upon them, then they will wrap tree trunks in red cloth to convert yin (bad) energy into yang (good) energy.

10. Don’t pick up money:

What seems like good luck could turn out to be disastrous! Picking up money from the ground brings with it bad fortune. So as hard as it may be, you’ll need to leave it where it is for the next unfortunate soul to pick up.

You might come across a lot too, as people often toss coins on the street following certain ceremonies or might leave joss paper lying about too. Picking up the latter is considered an insult to the spirits, and you wouldn’t want them to hold a grudge.

11. Don’t go out alone at night:

Going out alone at night should especially be avoided during Ghost Month.

Its especially true for younger folk, who are more susceptible to being possessed by spirits. If a ghost is out to steal someone’s soul, they’ll most likely favor a young one.

12. Don’t open umbrellas indoors:

You may be more familiar with this particular superstition. Taiwanese cultures also believe it’s bad luck to open an umbrella indoors, but for different reasons.

The umbrellas will gather yin (bad) energy as ghosts will huddle under for protection from the sun.

13. Don’t hang lanterns:

Lanterns are big in Chinese culture, there’s even an entire festival dedicated to them! However, this cultural phenomenon is put aside during the beginning of Ghost Month.

Lanterns are only used on the 15th day to guide the spirits onto the temple grounds where their offerings are waiting for them. Therefore, if you put a lantern outside your home or your business, you’re essentially guiding the spirits to enter your place!

14. Don’t hang windchimes:

Another misinterpreted welcome signal for spirits is wind chimes. Usually hung above a doorway, balconies, or windows, the tinkling sound is a blissful invitation for the lost souls who just can’t resist.

15. Don’t keep too many dolls in the house:

Like something out of a horrifying movie, dolls can be the stuff of nightmares in the right context. During Ghost Month, these frightful little figures are said to transform into an army of living spirits.

16. Don’t watch horror content:

Though it may seem like the perfect time to indulge in spooky horror movies and the like, it should be avoided at all costs.

Consumption of horror media is said to deplete yang (good) energy, and you’ll need all you can get this month.

17. Don’t wear monochrome outfits:

Even color has significant symbolism in Taiwanese culture. Where typically the color red is one of luck, during Ghost Month, one should avoid wearing monochrome colors.

Basically, your clothes shouldn’t all be matching in just one single color.

18. Don’t place shoes facing the bed:

When sleeping at night, the toes of one’s shoes should never face the bed. Instead, turn them to face away from the bed. The direction of the shoes indicates to spirits where a person is located.

If the shoes are pointed toward the bed, the spirits know where you are. This could lead to a situation of being pinned to the bed by a spirit, which does not sound pleasant.

19. Don’t kill insects:

Sadly, we apparently just have to deal with those endless cockroaches and buzzing mosquitoes.

More specifically, you should avoid killing insects that rarely appear in residential areas, as it is believed that ancestors visit relatives after they have reincarnated as a rare insect.

20. Don’t sit in the front row of the opera:

If you happen to visit the Taiwanese opera during this time, just make sure you stay away from the front row, as that is reserved for the spirits.

They get special privileges this month, and this entire festival is about making them as happy as possible.


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