Aug 14, 2019

Celebrated on the fifteenth of every seventh month on the lunar calendar, the Ghost Month is a Buddhist and Taoist belief that ghosts and spirits are freed and roam the earth to visit their living relatives or cause mischief⁠—often leading to accidents, unexpected deaths, and failures from personal and business ventures.

During this period, people are always reminded of a long list of things to avoid: Don’t make life-changing decisions, avoid taking long trips and being out at night, and don’t wear red or throw parties to avoid angering any spirits. My parents, for one, were advised to carry around a red pouch with salt in order to keep spirits away whenever there were important events.

For the most part, Ghost Month seems scary for believers and non-believers alike, given the long list of taboos and the generally fearful vibe during the month. Despite all of these, one should wonder: Is Ghost Month really something you should be afraid of?

Though Chinese traditions for the month are geared towards appeasing the spirits in the hopes of preventing them from wreaking havoc in one’s life, Ghost Month brings the memory of our long-lost loved ones to the forefront; we learn to honor the memory of our ancestors, further strengthening the importance of family in our lives.

We also learn to be more mindful of the dead, in general; we learn how to be more respectful of people who have long since departed, and we value the importance of living by looking back at the dead.

More than anything, the Ghost Month also provides an opportunity to reflect on our decisions and the opportunities we hope to pursue in the future. By slowing down and holding back at making big life-changing decisions, we learn how to work with the decisions we’ve made and the opportunities we already have.


Header image courtesy of Steinar Engeland from Unsplash

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