Sunday, August 14, 2005

The Gates of Hell are open

Last Friday marked the beginning of Ghost Month here in Taiwan, which will continue until September 3, with the highlight coming on the 15th day (I'm looking forward to that). To ensure that wandering ghosts will not disturb the peace and prosperity of the living over the next year, many Chinese burn enormous amounts of paper money, sometimes called "hell money," ( so the dead can have money to spend on the other side, and set up tables laden with food and alcohol during this time. Chinese people really believe in taking care of the ancestors.

There are many "no-no's" for Ghost Month. Our teacher was telling us about a few of them, such as no flute playing, no whistling, no opening umbrellas inside the house, no hanging your laundry outside to dry in the evening, no surgeries, no burials (and boy, are you ever unlucky if you die during Ghost Month). Also, you don't call them "ghosts" - you call them "little brothers" so they don't get offended. I also read that children don't stay out late during Ghost Month, because parents are afraid a ghost will possess them.

You can read more about Ghost Month at the following link.

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