Ghost Month benefits local products

HUNGRY GHOSTS::People choose to offer products packaged in what are believed to be lucky colors, although spirits are thought to have no preference

By Yang Chiu-ying and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Sat, Aug 25, 2012 - Page 5

As the public gears up for the peak period for offerings for “Ghost Month,” the amount of local products sold to be used for offerings has exceeded the sales of foreign products, with the Kuai Kuai (乖乖) brand’s products — in particular the products with green packaging — flying off the shelves three times faster than normal, according to local supermarkets.

The entire seventh month of the lunar calendar is considered the “Ghost Month,” in which, according to traditional Chinese beliefs, spirits are released from the underworld into the mortal realm. During this time, offerings can be seen on the streets on a daily basis.

It is common to see the bulk of offerings laid out during the weekend closest to the Chung Yuan Festival (中元節), also known as the Ghost Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar, as this is when the gates of the underworld are said to open.

Deputy director Chen Hsiu-shan (陳琇珊) at Pxmart, one of the nation’s supermarket chains, said the elevated sales of green-packaged Kuai Kuai products during Ghost Month is a recent phenomenon, adding that a preference for products with green packaging is all the more evident near technological centers such as the Hsinchu Science Park and Taoyuan’s Bade Industrial Park.

According to Kuai Kuai general supervisor Tsai You-hui (蔡幼輝), no one expected a Taiwanese brand to become so popular during this time.

“With the increasing importance of technology and the brand’s lucky name [which in Mandarin literally means “be good”], technology companies often buy green bags of Kuai Kuai and leave them beside the computer servers as an offering, hoping that the color green — which symbolizes ‘all normal’ in technology circles — would smooth out any snarls in the system,” Tsai said.

It is because of this belief that during Ghost Month our sales numbers are three times that of any normal time, Tsai said.

Yu Chun Technology deputy general manager Liu Hsiao-chuan (劉孝椽) said that even companies which spearhead the advances of technology cannot set the traditional beliefs aside.

“We would rather believe that there might be some truth to the belief,” Liu said, adding that they would never place a yellow or red bag of Kuai Kuai near the server mainframe.

However, folklore scholar Lin Mao-hsien (林茂賢) said there was no specific sort of offering that spirits preferred and that the choice of offering was mainly down to the preference of those bringing the offering.

Meanwhile, both Carrefour and Pxmart have said that since the beginning of the seventh month of the lunar calendar two weeks ago, more locally produced products have been sold than their foreign equivalents.

Local soft drinks have trumped sales of foreign cola products while sales of cookies and biscuits of local origin have also exceeded sales of their foreign counterparts, both chainstores said.