The 7th month of the Lunar calendar is also known as Ghost Month (鬼月), according to Chinese customs. This is the month where the gates of hell are opened to free the hungry ghosts who then wander to seek food on Earth. Of course like all Chinese customs (Wedding taboos, pregnancy taboos and many more), there are traditions and rules to follow.
1. Do not stay out late in the night because spirit might follow you back.
2. Do not stab your chopsticks on your bowl of rice because it is rude in term of table manners and it also resembles the joss sticks offerings to the dead. It is indirectly cursing your own death and also telling the spirits that it is their bowl of rice.
3. Do not open umbrella, especially a red one in the house because wandering ghosts might seek “shelter” under the umbrella.
4. Hanging out clothes at night
Based on traditions, my grandmother used to warn me about washing and hanging out clothes late at night as wandering ghosts may “wear” your clothes and you draw them into your house when you keep them.
5. Do not step on offerings
With many burning of incense papers and offerings of food of all sorts, one of the tradition is to avoid stepping or meddling with any of these. Doing so may anger the spirits which may then follow you home.
6. No swimming
Common belief of all is to avoid water or the sea. Tales from the past have linked occurrences of drowning and deaths to the Ghost Month, saying that the vengeful spirits who drowned in their previous lives are determined to take the living with them.
7. Do not kill rare insects in the house
It is a belief that rare insects that visit the house during this period are reincarnations of ancestors. The definition of rare can be quite subjective – the moths used to be “rare” but they were everywhere in the past month. Other than that, it is still safe to get rid of pests like cockroaches.
8. Do not use black or dark colour manicure because black nails may lead the spirits to think that you are one of them and may lead you back to hell as well.
9. Avoid working late during this month because human are weak in the night, while the spirit are strong and might cause possession.
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