Ghost Month

Ladies and Gentlemen, watch your back, because it is Ghost Month in Taiwan.

According to Chinese Tradition, the seventh month of the lunar calendar is Ghost Month, in which ghosts and spirits come out of the lower realm and visit Earth. In keeping with tradition, people pay homage to their deceased ancestors (who are believed to be visiting Earth at this time), by offering foods and burning paper money.

Apartment buildings all over Kaohsiung have set up tarps with tables underneath, creating space for the tenants to place their food offerings . The food baskets are then transferred to the country where they are donated to the less fortunate. Okay, so this part is not so bad; a little bit of giving back to the less fortunate, I can dig that.

It’s the trash fires for burning money offerings that I’m having trouble digesting.

Consequently, it’s been hazier than usual this weekend in Kaohsiung. The smoke from the offerings has been wafting through the streets, as if the spirits themselves are roaming the streets and haunting our lungs with toxins. From a Westerner’s perspective, it just looks like one colossal trash fire party to say “F*ck you Mother Earth!”.

Given the current pollution epidemic in China and Taiwan, I think they have more pressing matters than ghosts to be concerned with.

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Comments

  1. While I couldn’t agree more and spent every August in Taiwan completely bunged up, we’re all guilty of adding to pollution with our celebrations.
    http://environment.about.com/od/greenchristmas/a/christmascost.htm

    • Yup. I agree. All parts of the world need some lessons in sustainability. As for Christmas, it is as equally ridiculous in my eyes as Ghost Month. I’m not a Scrooge or anything, but I feel that people have gone overboard.

  2. It is interesting. Do you know that in China, the 7th day in the 7th Chinese month is the Valentine’s day but in Malaysia, the Chinese here also perform these prayers to appease the roaming spirit. You can see on the street where people put offering on the road and some placed they set up big canopies and with lots of offering inside the canopies.

  3. sheesh!

  4. Cool! I loved all of the Chinese superstitions I learned about from my students in China, but I wasn’t there for Ghost Month! I agree, it’s probably terrible for the already bad environment, but at least they donate the food to those in need.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Please ‘ban’ this disastrous practice of inflicting harm to our citizens here. Those who still continue to practice this kind of open burning are also called ‘arsenic terrorist’ as they endanger the fresh air that we humans, animals and plants breathe in order to function well. No wonder we eat so much of tainted food these days even if they call it fresh! The harm as the scientists have stated affects the respiratory, visual blur ness for many and some have even gone blind as may not have taken proper treatment and even the morality of our
    society for all living beings concerned.

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