Things You Shouldn’t Do During Ghost Month

Vanny Sanclaria
5 min readAug 4, 2022

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It’s the time of the year again.

According to the Taoist and Buddhist beliefs, the seventh month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar is ‘dedicated to the dead.’ This is called the Ghost Month.

During this time, it is believed that the Gates of Hell opens and the spirits of the dead pays a visit in the realm of the living to find food and some entertainment.

The Hungry Ghost Festival drops at the 15th day of the Ghost Month. This 2022, it falls on August 12th. In order to please these wandering ghosts and prevent them from wreaking havoc around, believers prepare offering foods and some forms of entertainment for them. So, if you happen to be taking a stroll around the streets and saw some table lined up on the sidewalk with some goodies and stuff, they’re not for you to munch on, they’re offering for the ghosts so refrain yourself from picking up some treats — or these ghosts might get mad at you!

So, to keep you and your home safe and sound from the mischievous spirits lurking around every corners, here’s a list of the things you shouldn’t do during this inauspicious time.

Don’t disturb the offerings

Makeshift altars are very common in residential areas during this time as this is where people pray and give offerings to appease the deceased. So, it is a common courtesy not to take a sneak peek inside these altars as you might disturb and offend the unseen having a feast inside.

Insulting, stepping, touching, and making fun of these altars are also a big no-no. If you happen to accidentally kicked or stomped on these altars, apologize immediately if you don’t want an angry ghost to follow you to your home.

Moreover, avoid sitting or leaning against the offering table. According to an urban legend, a mom who attended the Hungry Ghost Festival with her child placed her baby on top of the offering table for a short while to place her offerings.

After performing her deed, she turned around and saw her child lifeless on the table. It is believed that spirits had drained away his life energy thinking he was an offering.

Don’t pick up the red stuff

Don’t pick up the red stuff, and by that I mean, those tiny red envelopes (ang pow) lying around in the streets. It is believed that these envelopes might be a dowry from a bride in the underworld, waiting for unsuspecting person to pick it up. So, better leave them be unless you want to become a groom in the underworld.

Do not hang clothes outside at night

It is very common for Filipinos to hang clothes outside after washing them. I mean, who wouldn’t love to smell the fresh scent of detergent wafting into the air as your laundry dries under the sun. But remember not to let them hang out until sun down throughout the night.

The human shape of your clothes might attract wandering bad spirits and might ‘borrow’ them for the meantime — you know, these ghosts need some OOTD, too. Unfortunately, they may leave traces of misfortune onto your garments.

To counter this bad luck, avoid hanging your clothes near windows and balconies throughout the night.

Don’t sit in front row during performances

It is very common to hold shows and performances during the Hungry Ghost Festival called getais on makeshift platforms or stages, all for the entertainment of the spirits.

You can also enjoy them, however, refrain from sitting in the front row as these spots are reserved and for the honor of ghosts. Who knew you might sitting on the lap of an angry ghost. Moreover, you might offend other people who believe that the spirits of their deceased relatives are visiting them.

Don’t stay out late in the night

Heed your mom’s advice of coming home early or else misfortune might struck on you if you stay out late in the night. It is believed that during nighttime, the power of spirits and ghosts are said to be in the strongest state due to the yin energy brought out by the moon.

So, if to avoid inviting trouble and falling victim to these victims, it’s best to get your feet inside your abode before sundown.

Don’t mind the voices

Alright, staying out late in the night is kind of inevitable, especially if you’re working late or night shift. So, if you find yourself walking the dark streets on your way home and happen to hear some whispers and voices, don’t mind them and focus on your pace.

Don’t acknowledge any strange sound, smell, or sensation you might feel along the way. Don’t shift your gaze, cry, scream or talk to yourself as you are giving the spirits the power to take over you. Keep your composure and carry on.

Don’t get married

Weddings and other milestones in life such as moving houses are highly discouraged during this month. You might be unintentionally inviting special guests that may give you a not-so-happily ever after.

Don’t take pictures after sunset

If you’ve watched the film Shutter or Paranormal Activity, then this belief is pretty self-explanatory. Cameras are believed to trap ghost and spirits, and surprisingly, a lot of people plunge into the thrill of capturing one or two. Unless you want to invoke spirits and bad luck with you, it is best save that pose and smiles at day break.

Don’t whistle at night

No matter how bored you might be, refrain yourself from pursing your lips and whistle. It is believed that whistling attract spooky ghosts. So, for a peaceful sleep, it’s best to keep quiet at night.

Don’t touch someone else’s shoulders

People have invisible burning flames atop of their shoulders that helps them ward off evil spirits and misfortune — well, that is according to the Chinese folklore. If you causally tap somebody’s shoulder during the Ghost Month, you might put off this fire and make him vulnerable to the troubles of the unseen.

So, there you have it! These are just some of the things you shouldn’t do so that that you won’t offend or anger the hungry ghosts lurking around. Better safe than sorry! And remember, keep safe out there!

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