Why do people say it’s “Ghost Month” this August? How come “Ghost Month” falls in August, not October or November when Halloween and All Souls’ Day is celebrated? Maybe many Filipinos like me have these same questions.
Genson Gan, a PR account manager from Full Circle Communications Inc., gave an overview of what Ghost Month is all about.
”For us [Chinese-Filipinos], it is the month when we’re very careful, because it’s the time when hungry ghosts visit and wander around spontaneously,” he explained.
Like other occasions, Ghost Month is being observed every year–during the 7th Lunar month.
Gan noted that the schedule is based on the Lunar calendar, which is different from the calendar that Filipinos regularly use.
That is why Ghost Month usually falls either in July or August.
For this year, Ghost Month falls in August (the 14th) until September 12.
There are certain beliefs that people practice in every particular occasion (e.g. wearing clothes with polka dots and having 12 kinds of round-shaped fruits every New Year’s eve).
But during Ghost Month, what do the Chinese do?
Their parents and grandparents taught them to place food and incense (joss sticks) at the doorsteps, so that the ghosts would not enter the house.
To appease the ghosts, Chinese also burn ‘fake money’ outside the house.
”We’re extra careful when traveling. If possible, we try to avoid long travels, whether local or abroad,” Gan said.
Chinese believe they’re at risk of becoming victims of accidents and misfortunes during this time. Furthermore, they don’t stay outside late at night to avoid accidents.
In terms of business and money, Gan shared the some major beliefs.
They don’t buy houses, cars or spend on any big purchases. It’s also a no-no to sign business deals or open a new business during Ghost Month. They believe there’s a huge chance for bankruptcy or failed business during this period.
Transferring to a new office is also heavily discouraged.
They’re also not allowed to construct new buildings nor renovate their house.
“However, if it [construction/renovation] was already started before the Ghost Month, I think it’s fine to continue it,” Gan said.
Does every Chinese believe in Ghost Month? No.
A Chinese businessman, for example, was totally clueless about Ghost Month.
He even asked if it’s an event.
The wife of a Filipino-Chinese doctor said her husband doesn’t believe in Ghost Month, and added that he’s more “Pinoy” now.
Do the practices/beliefs vary if one is not pure Chinese?
Gan thinks there’s no difference since Chinese culture has created a great impact on them even during the early times.
He said many Filipinos have adopted traditional Chinese practices.
Gan’s mother is pure Chinese while his father is half- Chinese.
He considers his parents, grandparents and other relatives of having a huge influence on his beliefs.
Should everyone believe in Ghost Month, or is it exclusive only to the Chinese community?
It’s really up to the person, Gan said, adding that there’s nothing to lose and it’s not harmful if one would follow the basic dos and don’ts during Ghost Month.
In China, the Hungry Ghost Festival is one of several celebrated traditions where the ghosts of ancestors including mischievous and unhappy ones are believed to wander starting on the first day of the 7th lunar month, wandering around for days looking for some entertainment or mischief and getting hungry on the last day of the Ghost Month.