Ghost Month

The informant is my father who has always grown up in Taiwan but came to America for grad school. Understanding both cultures, he has a very wide understanding of the traditions in our household and its practices.

Informant: 中元節/鬼節 (Zhong Yuan Jie/Guai Jie) – Ghost month, is when the doors to the underworld open and ghosts come back to our world. This takes place from July to August and we put food outside and burn money for the ghosts and our ancestors. It is believed that the food will feed their hunger and the money is so that they can use in the underworld. It used to be practiced in every household, however, within the past 2 or 3 decades the houses and families have stopped doing it. Nowadays only those who run small businesses keep the tradition alive by putting tables outside their offices and putting out food and drinks while burning money in a large can. I think it has something to do with not upsetting the ghosts and satisfying them to prevent any bad luck.

I think this is interesting since it is still a prevalent tradition, but it has been long stopped being practiced by the households. Only those who run businesses do nott want to upset any of the ghosts and such, thus they try to give them what they want and go on with their businesses, hoping for no bad luck. Although after asking some of my Taiwanese friends, it is still practiced in households, but it is very rarely seen. It is interesting to see how such a prevalent tradition that takes up a whole month during the summer went from households to only businesses to continue performing the rituals.