hungry ghost month

19 Things You Shoud Never Do During Hungry Ghost Festival

The Hungry Ghost Festival is a traditional Chinese festival celebrated on the seventh month of the lunar calendar. According to Chinese customs, people believe that the gates of hell open up during this time, and the hungry ghosts are released to roam among humans.

On the eve of the festival, people will light candles and paper lanterns to guide lost souls back to heaven. They also offer food and other items to sustain these spirits. The following day, people will burn hell money as an offering to help these spirits move on from their suffering.

Like most Chinese customs such as weddings, pregnancy, etc., this month has traditions and rules to follow.

With the Hungry Ghost Festival this year from 16 August 2023 to 14 September 2023, we have listed out 19 taboos not to do to stay safe during this period.

Key Dates To Take Note For Hungry Ghost Festival 2023

16 August 2023 (First day of 7th lunar month) – The Hungry Ghost Festival has officially begun, and you will see many people burning joss papers. The Chinese believe that the gates of hell open on this date, allowing the deceased spirits to wander into the human world.

30 August 2023 (Lunar 15th Day) – We called this day Zhong Yuan Jie, also known as “Ghost Day”. People believed that the spirits were most active on this day. Therefore, It is usual to burn joss paper and feed the spirits on this day.

14 September 2023 – The Hungry Ghost Festival ends on the 29th day of the lunar 7th month. The Gate of Hell is closed, and ghosts go back. As a closure ritual, many will offer sacrifices on this day to pray for safety for the rest of the year.

What You Should Avoid Doing During The Hungry Ghost Festival?

1. Do not stay out late at night because spirit might follow you back.

2. Do not stab your chopsticks on your bowl of rice because it is rude in terms of table manners and resembles the joss sticks offerings to the dead. It indirectly curses your own death and tells the spirits that it is their bowl of rice.

3. Do not take a photo at night because you might capture other stuff you don’t wish to see.

4. If your birthday fall in the ghost month, avoid celebrating your birthday at night and blowing your cake. It will be better to celebrate during the daytime.

5. Do not open an umbrella in the house, especially a red one, because wandering ghosts might seek “shelter” under the umbrella.

6. Avoid working late this month because humans are weak at night, while the spirit is strong and might cause possession.

7. Do not cover your forehead. Instead, try to pin up your head as high as possible.

red umbrella hungry ghost month


8. Do not play games that can attract spirits like the ouija board or 碟仙.

9. Do not wait at a bus stop after midnight, especially after bus service hours.

10. Do not use black or dark colour manicures because black nails may lead the spirits to think that you are one of them and may lead you back to hell.

11. Do not enter a cemetery or an abandoned house because you might attract a wandering spirit back with you.

12. Avoid spitting and blowing your nose in public or at any tree/plant.

13. Don’t lean against the wall because spirits like to stick on walls because they’re cooler. So avoid leaning against them during the month.

14. Don’t turn your head around if someone pats you on the shoulder. Many believe that living humans have two protective flames on each shoulder. If a ghost pats you on the back and you only turn your head, you’ll snuff out that protective flame, thus making you vulnerable. To avoid this, turn the whole body at once instead of just the head.

15. Do not kill any insects that come into your house – It is a Chinese belief that insects especially are the reincarnation of spirits or visits of your late close ones.

16. Do not commence your renovation works in the 7th lunar month as it might cause a disturbance.

17. You should avoid buying cars or houses. The Chinese believe it brings bad luck if you purchase in this particular month. However, shopping first and signing all legal agreements after the month is fine.

18. Do not hang your clothes overnight as it easily attracts spirit to possess them.

19. Do not hold your wedding dinner celebration this month because people believe doing so can bring bad luck to the marriage and even cause disharmony.

In conclusion, take note of all these things to avoid during the Hungry Ghost Festival because it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Take a peek at  these Hungry Ghost Month Taboos

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Traditions & Culture19 Things You Shoud Never Do During Hungry Ghost Festival