This year, Ghost Month actually started last August 16 through September 14. In the Chinese calendar, its the seventh lunar month.
A stark misconception is that each year the Ghost Month starts exactly on August 1 and lasts for about 30 days.
In the Chinese calendar, the start of the seventh lunar month or Ghost Month this year is August 16 through September 14. Last year, the period covered was from July 29 to August 26 while in 2024, is from August 4 to September 2.
This is just one among the many Chinese cultural traditions that Filipinos tend to observe, too, like the Lunar New Year and Mooncake Festival.
From centuries back, these practices are heavily influenced by the significant Chinese population in the country. Their festivals, with all its clatter and pomp, had been popularly celebrated since 1594 when the first Chinatown was established in the Philippines.
Ever wondered why Filipino business owners are wary of trading or transacting during the Ghost Month?
Majority of Filipino businessmen believe that luck has something to do with their success. The Chinese strongly believe in luck just like many Filipino entrepreneurs. More often than not, the number "7" has something to do with it.
In the solar or Gregorian calendar, August is the eighth month. In the Chinese lunar calendar, the influence of the moon has much to do with the month count and, therefore, the Ghost Month falls on the seventh full moon.
Traditionally, this number represents a combination of Yin and Yang and the five elements that influence humans — Earth, Fire, Metal, Wood, and Water. In Chinese, "7", is "qi", meaning "vital energy". In the same breath, in their language and depending how one pronounces it, this number could also sound like "cheat".
Calling the 7th month "Ghost Month" stems from the belief that this is the time restless spirit of departed ancestors come out of the "lower realm" to visit the earth. Certain spirits are assumed to be omens or purveyors of doom.
There is also something positive in the Ghost Month. This is the night of the "Double 7" or QiXi Festival celebrated on the 7th night of the 7th month. This year, it was celebrated on August 22 to celebrate love and remove disambiguity.
Feng Shui doyen, Master Hanz Cua, in an interview was quoted as saying that this is the time when hell opens its gates and hungry or cursed ghosts come out hunting for food. They also seek entertainment by tormenting humans, effecting pain, suffering, or even death.
Cua even mentioned certain tragedies that befell during the Ghost Month are: the Plaza Miranda bombing in 1971; assassination of Ninoy Aquino in 1983; demise of Cory Aquino and Typhoon Ondoy in 2009, and 9-11 terror attack in the Twin Towers of New York City, among the many.
Filipino businessmen become extra cautious in launching new projects and in signing of new contracts. Better safe than sorry, they'd say.
Ordinary folk who believe that effects of the Ghost Month should be minimized tend to postpone long-haul travel, effect unions and avoid major surgeries.
But if any of these could not be avoided, feng shui experts advise: burning of paper money for luck; sprinkling salt and making food offering of pork, chicken and fruits ouside doors and windows; lighting red candles and offering prayers to the dearly departed, and displaying lucky charms like the bagua mirror and figurines.
Hungry spirits hate being ignored, especially on the 15th night of the Ghost Month that falls on the 30th.
Wearing the lucky color red is deemed to have a neutral effect, keeping homes well lighted and playing lively music distract ghosts.
Most attractive to hungry ghosts are children and the aging citizens who are advised to be extra careful and to avoid going out late at night.
For those who are skeptical of the existence of wandering ghosts at this time, exercising caution won't hurt.
Photo Caption: Ghosts Scrolls (WikiMedia Commons)
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