Last Updated on 08-30-2023
There are many festivals in Taiwan, and each festival has corresponding taboos. August 16, 2023 is the first day of July on the lunar calendar, is also referred to as the “Ghost Month” and is full of taboos. Many elders will advise against traveling during this time, whether it is a habit of life or just for fun. Numerology experts have organized a list of 36 taboos for this month, whether we believe in them or not.
- Origin of Ghost Month
- 6 Taboos for living during the Ghost Month
- 12 Taboos of Feng Shui at Home
- Refrain from Commencing Construction
- Refrain from Moving into the New Residence
- Postpone House Purchases
- Refrain from Hanging Lanterns
- Avoid Hanging Wind Chimes
- Avert Darkness
- Prevent Dampness
- Avoid Dark and Dull Interior Design
- Avoid Arched Doorways and Windows
- Limit Excessive Tree Growth
- Position Shoes Away from the Bed at Night
- Limit the Number of Dolls
- 13 Taboos for Traveling During the Ghost Month
- 4 Taboos of Dressing for the Ghost Month
- 5 Taboos of Fruits to Worship Ghosts on Ghost Month
Origin of Ghost Month
Every year, during the first day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar, the Ghost Door swings ajar, revealing a connection between our world and the supernatural. In 2023, this ethereal portal is set to open on Wednesday, August 16th, according to the Chinese calendar. Yet, the true pivotal moment is at 23:00 (Zi Zi Hour) on the 15th day of the month, a time when the Ghost Door to Cao Tou’s hell is said to creak open, permitting departed spirits to return to the realm of the living.
As the year progresses, specifically on Thursday, September 14th on the Chinese calendar, the ghostly passage will once again close its mysterious gateway, compelling the spirits to retreat to the netherworld.
Throughout the entirety of the seventh month in the Lunar Calendar, customs dictate the arrangement of diverse activities. These include the Hungry Ghost Festival and the poignant practice of “orphans snatching,” aimed at extending compassion to those who find themselves destitute and forging bonds of solidarity. This collective effort seeks to foster a harmonious coexistence, underlining the altruistic intent of easing the burdens of the people.
6 Taboos for living during the Ghost Month
Don’t get married
Numerous spirits pass away before experiencing the bonds of matrimony. Entering into marriage during a Ghost Month could be likened to flaunting one’s happiness before them, potentially provoking feelings of envy among their fellow departed brethren.
Don’t kick off
Commencing trading activities on the Ghost Month is often considered inauspicious, frequently leading to unfavorable business outcomes.
Don’t pick up the red envelope
Should you come across wallets, red bags, currency notes, coins, or any such items strewn along the roadside, it’s best to refrain from picking them up. These objects might inadvertently invite a “ghost spouse” into your life or potentially attract spirits to accompany you.
Don’t talk nonsense
When attending a funeral or visiting a place of worship, it’s crucial to be mindful of your words and actions. Avoid hasty speech or frivolous behavior, and ensure that no disrespectful thoughts enter your mind. This precautionary approach guards against becoming a potential target for “supernatural” attention.
No Ouija boards
During the Ghost Month, it’s advisable to steer clear of playing games like Money Fairy or Ouija Board Fairy on a whim. Engaging in such activities without due consideration could lead to unforeseen complications, and it might become difficult to extricate yourself from the game.
Do not trample on the hell money
If you happen upon hell money on the ground, avoid stepping on it, and refrain from burning hell money as a means to draw the attention of spirits.
12 Taboos of Feng Shui at Home
Refrain from Commencing Construction
Starting construction during the seventh month of the lunar calendar can easily disturb the ghosts. It’s advisable to wait until the eighth lunar month before beginning any construction projects. However, if construction has already commenced before the seventh lunar month, work can continue throughout that month without concern.
Refrain from Moving into the New Residence
Bringing in small items or appliances to your new home is acceptable, but larger items, furniture, appliances, and even household altars for deities and ancestral shrines should be avoided during the seventh lunar month. Moving into a new residence during this month might provide an opportunity for benevolent spirits to enter.
Postpone House Purchases
During the seventh lunar month, which is considered the Ghost Month, the demand for real estate and home purchases tends to decline. This period presents an opportunity for advantageous property viewing and negotiation, potentially resulting in more favorable deals than during other times. It’s advisable to wait until the end of the Ghost Month to finalize down payments and contracts. In the eighth lunar month, select an auspicious day for official property transfer, renovation commencement, and relocation to your new home, ensuring a joyful and auspicious move-in experience.
Refrain from Hanging Lanterns
Before the Pudu Festival (Ghost Festival), courtyards of various temples will be adorned with bamboo poles topped with bamboo leaves and circular lanterns inscribed with the words “Celebrating and Praising Zhongyuan.” This arrangement, known as the “Vertical Lantern Pole,” will be illuminated on the day of Pudu, serving as a guiding light for the wandering spirits returning to the mortal realm for respite. These spirits gather, rest, and partake in the abundant offerings prepared by people. During the seventh lunar month, hanging lanterns at your doorstep or balcony might inadvertently signal spirits to come forth, particularly white lanterns, which are especially inauspicious.
Avoid Hanging Wind Chimes
During the ghost month, refrain from hanging wind chimes at your doorway, balcony, or windows. The resonating sounds of wind chimes might be mistaken by spirits as an invitation to gather. This is particularly true for copper wind chimes, which should be avoided.
In an effort to save electricity, some individuals frequently keep their lights at minimal levels, both during the day and at night. If a house has few windows facing outward, it can become excessively dim inside, inadvertently creating an environment favored by spirits. Moreover, such dimly lit spaces might be perceived as unoccupied, potentially drawing the attention of ghosts.
Keeping doors and windows tightly closed for prolonged periods can lead to dampness within the household. In time, this can result in poor air circulation and the development of moldy odors. Coupled with the lack of illumination, such an environment is conducive to attracting supernatural entities. Furthermore, it might foster negative thoughts and even contribute to illnesses among occupants. During daylight hours, open windows to allow sunlight to enter the interior space, encouraging the influx of positive energy while dispelling negativity.
Avoid Dark and Dull Interior Design
Dark colors such as black or gray tend to accumulate negative energy and can have an adverse impact on both fortune and emotions. If your home’s interior design already leans in this direction, consider opting for bright furniture and decorations. Choose warm colors like red, orange, and yellow, and enhance the lighting with warm-toned, sunlight-like illumination. This approach can uplift positive energy and transform any negative magnetic influences.
Avoid Arched Doorways and Windows
The design of arched doorways and windows resembles tombstones, attracting negative energy. It’s advisable to conceal or modify the curved arch design at the top to mitigate this effect.”
Limit Excessive Tree Growth
Having an abundance of trees in your courtyard or on your balcony, with dense foliage that blocks out the sky, can attract wandering spirits to find respite there. It’s advisable to trim and prune the branches and leaves before the seventh lunar month arrives. If the seventh lunar month is already underway, you can encircle the trunks of the trees with red fabric strips to transform the negative energy into positive.
Position Shoes Away from the Bed at Night
When sleeping at night, it’s advisable not to position the front of your shoes toward the bed. Instead, turn the shoes to face away from the bed to prevent spirits from slipping into them.
Limit the Number of Dolls
It’s advisable not to have an excessive number of dolls, figurines, or idols in your home. This precaution helps guard against potential spiritual intrusion. You can cut red paper into small squares, about the size of a ten-cent coin, and affix them to the base or under the feet of the dolls. This action prevents spirits from infiltrating.
13 Taboos for Traveling During the Ghost Month
Avoid Nighttime Outings
The Ghost Month falls during the scorching summer, and many people plan to escape the heat by visiting the mountains or the seaside. However, it’s wise to avoid venturing into remote and desolate areas during the nighttime. These places tend to carry a heavier negative energy, attracting wandering spirits and ghosts. Those with a vulnerable aura might inadvertently invite possession by spirits.
Avoid Dangerous Waters
The Ghost Month coincides with the summer vacation, a popular time for water activities. However, it’s crucial to avoid venturing into perilous seaside or riverbank areas, especially those known for frequent accidents. Water spirits are particularly fond of luring individuals into dangerous situations to act as substitutes, allowing them to seize a chance for reincarnation.
Engaging in fishing activities is considered a form of taking life, which could attract wandering spirits. To prevent this, it’s best to avoid fishing during the Ghost Month.
No Patting on the Shoulder
Everyone carries three “fires” within them, located at the head and shoulders. Patting someone’s head or shoulder, especially in deserted areas, might inadvertently ignite negative energy or attract spirits.
Whistling, particularly during nighttime outings, might be misinterpreted by spirits as a summons, potentially causing them to follow you.
No Singing at Night
The heavier negative energy during the Ghost Month’s nights might attract spirits. Singing or making loud noises while walking alone at night should be avoided.
No Nighttime Photography
Avoid taking random photos during the night, especially in desolate areas. The growing darkness after sunset can make it easier to capture images of spirits, which could lead to misfortune.
Avoid Taking the Last Ride
The darkest hour of each day during the Ghost Month is around midnight. Taking transportation during this time, especially the last ride, might attract spirits to accompany you.
Don’t Walk Close to Walls
Spirits are believed to prefer walking along walls as they provide shade. Therefore, it’s recommended not to walk or rest close to walls during the Ghost Month.
Don’t Eat Offerings
If you encounter ritual offerings while outside, refrain from consuming them. Taking these offerings is seen as competing with spirits for food, potentially inviting bad luck.
No Clothes Drying on Balcony
During business trips or vacations, you might need to hand-wash clothes. However, avoid hanging them on the balcony, as clothes’ shapes resemble human forms, making it easier for spirits to attach themselves.
Avoid Loose Unkempt Hair
Long hair past the waist or loose unkempt hair is discouraged during the Ghost Month. Wearing ghost costumes or masks might cause spirits to perceive you as one of their kind, potentially attracting their attention.
If you’re celebrating something during the Ghost Month, it’s best to do so during the daytime to avoid attracting spirit attention.
The Ghost Month coinciding with summer vacations results in increased travel, but also potentially more accidents. While these taboos stem from ancient folklore, it’s better to err on the side of caution and be mindful of these customs during this time. Stay safe and enjoy your travels!
4 Taboos of Dressing for the Ghost Month
Avoid Monochromatic Outfits (All Black, All White, All Red)
Black and white clothing are common choices in wardrobes for both men and women. However, during the Ghost Month, it’s advisable to avoid wearing entirely monochromatic outfits. If you’re wearing a single-colored dress, consider using accessories to add some variation. Wearing all black might attract negative energy and wandering spirits. All white could be misinterpreted as signaling a funeral, attracting spirits seeking their own kind. Additionally, all-red clothing should be approached with caution. The color red can evoke thoughts of blood and death, potentially drawing spirits associated with violent or harmful situations.
Avoid Overly Revealing or Off-Shoulder Clothing
During the Ghost Month, there are wandering spirits known as “colorful ghosts” that particularly favor women dressed in revealing or off-shoulder clothing. These spirits might attempt to pat your shoulder or head, as individuals have three “fires” on these areas. If the fire is extinguished through patting, you could be susceptible to spirit possession. To mitigate this, avoid overly revealing attire at night. If you choose to wear such clothing during the day, avoid places with heavy negative energy (cemeteries, hospitals, mausoleums, slaughterhouses, abandoned buildings) to minimize the risk of attracting these spirits.
Avoid Distressed Clothing
Steer clear of “distressed” fashion, such as ripped jeans, during the Ghost Month. Wearing worn-out or distressed clothing might lead wandering spirits to view you as a “poor ghost” and potentially attract their attention.
Do Not Wear Wedding Dresses
Wearing a wedding dress during the Ghost Month could invoke jealousy among spirits, as many of them might be unmarried.
5 Taboos of Fruits to Worship Ghosts on Ghost Month
In Minnan dialect, it sounds like “旺來” (pronounced as “wáng-lâi”), which could be interpreted as one passing away after another, like a sequence of departures.
Banana, Plums, Pears or Pineapples
In Minnan dialect, it sounds like “招” (pronounced as “chhioh”), which means to attract or summon. “招來” (pronounced as “chhioh-lâi”) could be misunderstood as inviting the deceased to come along, walking with the departed souls.
Grapes, Litchi or Lychee Fruit, Longan, Banana
Because these fruits come in whole bunches, there’s a taboo about having “a whole bunch of deaths.” There’s a concern that someone in the family might follow the departed souls, leading to a series of passings. If you intend to offer these fruits to wandering spirits, it’s acceptable to cut them apart, and the taboo wouldn’t apply. Additionally, when using these fruits for offerings to deities, there are no such restrictions, and instead, it can attract positive outcomes one after another!
Guava and tomatoes, when consumed along with their seeds, are harder to digest and may be expelled through feces. In the past, due to inadequate bathroom facilities and poor hygiene practices, people often relieved themselves outdoors, leading to the growth of guava and tomato plants from the seeds. Consequently, the older generation believed that “guava fruits are grown from seeds expelled through feces.” Therefore, offering these fruits during worship would be seen as disrespectful and unclean to the deities.
However, with advancements in hygiene practices and improved living conditions, these concerns are no longer prevalent. Furthermore, businesses that deal with checks and financial transactions need not offer guava during worship, as it might attract the notion of receiving “guava checks,” which metaphorically implies bounced or unpaid checks.
The shape of these fruits resembles the head of Siddhartha Gautama Buddha. Offering them during worship would be disrespectful to the deities and could also upset wandering spirits. Therefore, it’s best to avoid using them for religious purposes and simply enjoy them at home.