The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire

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Friday, August 19, 2005

National Ghost Month

This is National Ghost Month in Taiwan.

Many people in Taiwan will go to temples or hold rituals at their homes on Friday to celebrate "Chung Yuan," or "Ghost Festival," a holiday that falls on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month to fete the departed spirits of the underworld. The festival is part of a local tradition that provides people with an opportunity to strengthen their links with other people in this society, and to show their respect for the dead and how they treasure their human lives. The Chinese refer to the seventh lunar month as "Ghost Month," during which people should abide by certain taboos and avoid traveling afar for better luck in the coming year. The first day of the month, which fell on August 5, is called the "Opening of the Gates of the Hades, meaning that gates of Hell are flung open to allow the ghosts and spirits of the nether world into the world of the living for a month of feasts of food and wine. During the Ghost Festival, prodigious tables of wine and meat are offered to one's ancestors and ghosts from the underworld. In Taiwan, ghosts without descendants to care for them are euphemistically called "Good Brethren." The festival is thus often referred to as "praying to the Good Brethren." Numerous "Putu" activities are held at this time around the island, crowned by the grand ghost day ceremony held in the northern port city of Keelung that often draws tens of thousands of visitors every year. This earthly party will come to an end on the 30th day of the month, or on September 3 this year, which is also called the "Closing of the Gates of Hades." Today the Ghost Festival is more modest than in the past in grandeur and scale as the government encourages more frugal forms of prayer in folk customs. However, this custom, an extension of the traditional ethic of universal love, will still be preserved as a time for remembering the importance of filial piety and other virtues.
That sounds like a tremendous month and one I intend to fully celebrate (yes, every month is Ghost Month here at The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire.) On a related note, please welcome Prosian Thoughts to the sidebar. He's blogging from Malaysia where they are celebrating Hungry Ghost Month.


Blogger HP said...

There's a fun, macabre short story available online called "Hell Notes," the ersatz money used to bribe hungry ghosts to keep them at bay. It's about a guy who finds a Chinese restaurant where they have a special menu that only accepts payment in hell money.

It's a quick read. Enjoy.

8/22/2005 04:35:00 PM  

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