Festival – Chinese

My informant is actually a Chinese-Australian. She was born in China and lived there until she was in junior high. She then moved to Australia, where she lived until college. Although she had moved a couple of times, she still remains true to her heritage. Thus, she told me about a festival called the Ghost Festival that many Chinese people celebrate. This is actually a festival and a holiday in Asia that is quite like what Halloween was in the beginning. The Ghost Festival is held the fourteenth night in the seventh lunar month.

This festival started as a day when ghosts and spirits would leave their underworld to come visit those that they have left behind. However, this is not a day to be afraid of the dead. Rather, it is a day where the living and the dead can coexist for a few hours. It is a day for ancestors to visit their loved ones. My informant tells me that she and her family will often visit her family tomb and leave offerings for her ancestors. They also burn money so that the spirits of their ancestors can still live a fruitful life. Another tradition that is not as common anymore that her family used to take part in is the releasing of paper boats. Her family would hand make miniature boats and set them on fire. The glowing boats would be “lanterns” for the ghosts to find their way back home at the end of the night.

My informant told me that in her family and especially in Chinese culture, the idea of a family is very important. Her family believes that her ancestors are very much in control of their future. If they respect their ancestors, their ancestors will bless them in return. This is why during festivals such as these, her family makes sure to work extra hard to please her ancestors.

Annotation: Yih, Jung-tzung. “Ghost Festival.” Calendar of Holidays and Festivals. Government             Information Office, Republic of China. 26 Apr 2007             <http://www.gio.gov.tw/info/festival_c/ghost_e/ghost.htm>.