How to survive Ghost Month
The 7th month in the Chinese lunar calendar is also called Ghost Month, and it has commenced as of August 3 this year. For 30 days, the gates of the Netherworld are open, allowing hungry ghosts to roam among the living. If that sounds too creepy, here are some rules to help you get through Ghost Month.
For the rest of us without a So Ji Sub, what do we do for 30 days?
According to those who believe in ghost month, there are some special rules to follow.
1. Don't turn your head around if someone pats on your shoulder. It is believed that each person has 3 life-protecting flames--one on each shoulder and one on the forehead. If you only turn your head, you might snuff out one of the flames. If you really want to turn around, turn your entire body, according to "expert" advice. Or, don't turn at all.
2. Don't take selfies or photos in the dark of the night, or ghosts might photobomb your snapshots.
3. Don't pick up money on the street, or you may acquire bad luck instead. (Is this an honesty test?)
4. Don't hang clothes outside to dry, or devious spirits might put them on to sneak into your house. (Glad I have a clothes dryer, but I'd better keep my laundry room shut.)
5. Don' go out alone at night. This is an advice especially for young adults and children for fear that they might get possessed. (This is sound advice in any month, don't you think?)
6. Don't take the last bus home, especially during the midnight hours when ghosts are most active. (What if it's the Catbus in My Neighbor Totoro?)
7. Do not buy a house or move into a new home during this month, to avoid picking up new "housemates." In Taiwan, over 70% of people surveyed said they try to avoid moving or buying a new home during ghost month. On the other hand, real estate brokers also slash prices to attract buyers at this time. So, what would you do?
8. Do not hold parties, and obviously do not get married during the ghost month. (Is this why Ruby Lin and Wallace Huo got married on July 31, before ghost month started?)
9. Do not walk alongside a wall. The reason is that ghosts tend to lean along the wall to rest. (Ok...)
10. Do not whistle, or it could be interpreted by ghosts that you want to make new friends. (Whew, glad I don't know how to whistle.)
Which of these rules do you think you'll follow?
Historians aren't sure about the exact origin of the ghost month, because the 7th lunar month is generally viewed positively in China. For whatever the reason, the belief in ghost month started during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), and the custom is particularly kept alive by believers living in Fujian and Taiwan, where common traditions and dialects have been shared for over 400 hundred years. Non-believers tend to go along with some of the rules, just to play it safe. (I mean, do you walk under ladders?)
The month that comes with ghosts also comes in the hottest time of the year. When you're trying to stay cool, let's hope you can also avoid hungry ghosts who may want to steal ice cream from you.
(GIF made by Bel Watson)
(Image credit as referenced or tagged)