Ghost Month, which falls in the seventh month of the lunar calendar, began in Taiwan on Friday last week and runs through Sept. 12.
Traditional Taiwanese beliefs hold that the door of the underworld opens during Ghost Month so that the spirits of the dead can come back to the human world and partake in the offerings of food prepared by family members.
There are a number of things that many people avoid doing during Ghost Month, including not whistling — especially after dark — as whistling is thought to attract evil spirits and once they have been lured, they could follow the person around for a long time, bringing ill fortune.
If someone pats you on the shoulder, do not just turn your head to see who it is. Since some people believe that the living have two protective flames, one on each shoulder, if a ghost pats you on the back and you only turn your head, you will snuff out that protective flame and become vulnerable. To avoid this, turn the whole body instead of just the head.
People are advised not to go swimming, because it is believed that evil spirits who drowned might try to drown a swimmer to gain a chance at rebirth.
Laundry hanging on a clothes line outside should be brought inside before nightfall, lest devious spirits don your clothes as a way to sneak into your home.
Rare insects inside a home should not be killed as some believe that their ancestors come to visit relatives after being reincarnated as a rare insect.
The definition of “rare” is debatable, but basically it would include any kind of insect that is rarely spotted inside your home such as butterflies, grasshoppers or moths. Roaches are not included.
Some other important things to avoid doing during Ghost Month include anything that one would not want having bad luck associated with, such as launching a new business venture, moving into a new home or getting married.
Taoist temples often put on an “Eight Generals” (八家將) performance or parade during this time.
The Eight Generals act as a kind of spiritual police force to ward off, nab and punish evil spirits.
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