The Hungry Ghost Festival, sometimes
called Half July, is the Chinese
version of All Souls' Day, where the living appease ghosts with a huge
feast, so they will not harm anyone. The holiday takes place on the 15th
day of the 7th month of the lunar Chinese calendar. The Hungry Ghost
Festival takes place in China, as well as Singapore and Malaysia. It is a
very serious holiday that the Chinese do not disregard.
Origin of the
The Chinese believe that during this time of
the gates of the underworld are opened, allowing ghosts to roam the
earth. The ghosts are forgotten souls who are held in limbo in the
underworld, so they are continually in a state of unrest. In order to
appease these souls, the Chinese offer them a feast in their honor.
Makeshift altars are
erected to the ghosts during this
holiday with prayers to the ghosts. The altars have offerings, which
are placed in public places such as along roadsides, in temples, and
other various places. The altars are never erected close to homes, in
hopes that the ghosts will not reek havoc on household members.
It is common to see joss sticks glowing in the
on the streets and tables displaying cold food that are not cooked.
These might include rice, fruits, as well as raw meat. In most cases
when the holiday is over, the food is given to the poor to eat.
Some Chinese will burn money and fabric in
provide the ghosts with their basic needs. Incense is burned throughout
the night. The more incense the better. The ceremonial acts are quite
simple, but are done to make sure the ghosts are kept happy enough to
return to the underworld without wrecking homes.
Stage operas and musicals are performed in order to
entertain the Hungry Ghosts. It is believed that you must keep the
Superstition or Not
are many superstitions that the Chinese believe during this holiday. It
is considered unsafe to go swimming during the seventh lunar month. It
is believed that a ghost can cause one to drown. Floating lanterns are
dispersed on top of the waters at dusk to remember those who have died
in the waters, as well as to give light to the underworld spirits. When
the lanterns have been extinguished, people head home and hope that the
spirits would journey to another realm.
children are advised to stay indoors on this day. It is believed that
the ghosts might lure the children to the underworld to meet untimely
death. Weddings are never held on this day. It is considered bad luck.
All Part of
The Hungry Ghost Festival happens
around the same time as the Buddhist Ullambana, a festival of
Deliverance. This festival, too, is dedicated to communication with the
dead. As such, the seventh lunar month is considered Ghost Month in
China. It is a somber month for the Chinese.
Your purchase of our
Learning Chinese Children's Books, CDs, DVDs, and Software are appreciated!
All products have a
Free shipping for US orders over $25.
Hungry Ghosts' Festival Coloring Pages! Just click on the small picture!
||Spirits of ancestors appeased with joss sticks, cold food and flowers.
||A Chinese ghost
||Lanterns for Hungry Ghost Festival. Some leave lanterns to drift on bodies of water to light the way of underwater spirits.
||Ghost Festivals are often in mid-summer.
Other Chinese Coloring Pages from ChildBook