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Ghost Month

Chinese believe in life after death, so the deceased become spirits or ghosts roaming between Heaven and Earth. Once a year, the “Ghost Gate” opens and let them to return and visit their descendants during the whole month. This month falls on the seventh month of the lunar calendar (between August and September) and it is dedicated to pray for them and offer lots of feasts and sacrifices.

It is said that if ghosts are not venerated properly, even those who don’t have descendants, can get upset and cause some troubles. Taiwanese specially believe on this feast due to the history of their country. There were many people who immigrated to the island, they suffered wars and hunger, what left many souls without descendants who fought for their country. Thats the superstition why Taiwanese believe more in their ancestors than in main China.

Most of the activities are held no the temples, where it takes place pigs’ sacrifices, big offerings of food, burn of incense, chants or prayers, as well as burning fake money for the spirits and let them to take it away (this can sound funny but it is very common to see people on the temples or shops burning fake money).

During the whole month the most superstitious carry out some “restrictions” to do not offend the ghosts. That’s the reason there are some prohibitions or things you are not allowed (or you are supposed) to do so:

  • Try to do not celebrate any important event as weddings, having a baby, buy a new house or car, to start to run a business, or have an operation.
  • Whistle at night, that could attract the ghosts come to your home.
  • Do not swim in open areas as in the sea, rivers or lakes, because the water ghosts can steal alive souls.
  • Do not use the word “ghost” or other euphemisms to don’t allow them approach to you. The correct form to call them is “good brother”.
  • Do not hang clothes outside at night, as souls like to get inside them and that could cause some kind of disease to the owner.
  • Do not stay outside until late at night… spirits are eveywhre!

The 29th day of  the month the door of the souls closes and a month of joy and freedom for the spirits ends. People can rest safely and undisturbed.

Even if you are not superstitious, it seems that this month registers high indexes of accidents on the roads or in the sea, making Taiwanese to move forward or pospone some activites already planned. Even pregnant women will find some way to don’t have the baby during these days.

There are also some activities and celebrations in different areas of the island, but the most important are held in Keelung, with the Water Lantern,  or the Snatching of the Flag in Toucheng. Here you are some images from the Lao Da Gong Temple in Keelung.

In Western countries the most similar celebration would be Halloween or the All Saints’ Day (1rst November), when the most popular events are eating with the family and, in some places, dress up as a zombie or some kind of scaring character. In Taiwan, we found the western version of ghosts and from time to time they celebrete a sort of “zombies meeting“.

It’s really scary!!


    Veig que, amb esperits o sense, no hi falta ni la gana ni el bon humor.

    Algunes disfresses són força espectaculars. Però,tu,Anna ,has quedat molt natural.


  • Collons quin festival, no reconec a l’Anna qui es?, la de la perruca blanca o la del vestit vermell?

    Molts records.