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Beyond Halloween: 8 Holidays Spirits Love


8
The Hungry Ghosts Festival
A worshipper makes offerings at a park during the Hungry Ghost Festival on Aug. 14, 2015 in Hong Kong. Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images for Hong Kong Images)
A worshipper makes offerings at a park during the Hungry Ghost Festival on Aug. 14, 2015 in Hong Kong. Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images for Hong Kong Images)

You didn't know ghosts got hungry did you? Roaming around the world can do that. Many Chinese people have a strong proclivity for ancestor worship, and they believe in spirits. These two traditions come together during the lunar calendar's seventh month (around August). That's when, the Chinese say, restless spirits descend upon the earth, wandering to and fro. Who knows what mischief, or worse, a restless spirit can do? To make sure they never find out, the Chinese try to appease these ghosts by burning incense, joss paper and fake money in roadside fires.

In case the spirits are a bit morose, they can enjoy the operas and dramas staged for their entertainment. The Chinese also place food outside in case the ghosts have built up an appetite from all of their restless wandering. All these activities serve a dual purpose, as they're also considered a way to worship one's ancestors.

While these activities take place throughout the seventh lunar month, they're most likely to be observed on the 15th day, which is designated as Yu Lan, or the Hungry Ghost Festival. Chinese operas performed on this day praise the gods' many charitable and pious activities. Yu Lan has been practiced for more than a century, and is officially considered part of the country's cultural heritage [source: Discover Hong Kong].


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