19 Aug

Hungry Ghosts

If you walk through the streets you may see people making food offerings and burning things on the side of the street. This is for the Hungry Ghost Festival.

The Hungry Ghost Festival falls on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month. You can find the Western calendar date here.

According to traditional Chinese belief, the seventh month in the lunar calendar is when restless spirits roam the earth. Many Chinese people make efforts to appease these transient ghosts, while ‘feeding’ their own ancestors — particularly on the 15th day, which is the Yu Lan or Hungry Ghost Festival.

While the festival’s origins are not unlike those of Halloween in Europe, it is also intrinsically linked to the Chinese practice of ancestor worship. For the visitor, it’s a perfect opportunity to see some of the city’s living culture in action, with many people tending roadside fires and burning faux money and other offerings for ghosts and ancestors to use in the afterlife. Food is also left out to sate the appetite of the hungry ghosts.