Ghost Month: Watch Your P’s and Q’s

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Incense Drying, Taiwan

My last blog entry described the offerings made during Ghost Month. This post focuses on the precautions taken during Ghost Month. People usually go to temples to worship and the pictures included in this blog are of people worshipping and incense drying.

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No way!  You can’t move now.  It is Ghost Month.  Moving is not a good idea during Ghost Month.”

This is a translation of my neighbor’s words of concern when we told her we were moving during Ghost Month a few years ago.  To be honest, Ghost Month was the furthest thing from my mind at that time.  My husband and I were busy planning and preparing for our weddings in Canada and Taiwan.  We were in the process of making the big move from Taipei to central Taiwan.  We were tying up loose ends at our jobs and saying good-bye to our friends and colleagues.  We were preparing for our round-the-world-journey with stops in France, Canada, and the U.S.  Life at that time was hectic to say the least. Marriage, moving, traveling, and a new life in a new place presented a lot of question marks in our lives, but presented a sense of excitement as well.  But our neighbor took advantage of every available opportunity to warned us about the negativity surrounding moving during Ghost Month.   She also told us that she was planning to move too but in September when Ghost Month was over.

We did make the big move during Ghost Month and the first few months in our new place didn’t go exactly as we had hoped for.  The house had leaky, drafty windows which howled constantly during high winds. It’s funny that a typhoon made it’s way to Taiwan the first night we stayed at our new place.  Rain water pounded through the windows and formed huge puddles on all of the bedroom floors.  I am not a superstitious person but we found ourselves moving less than a 1/2 year later which solved all of our problems.  Could our neighbor in Taipei actually be right?

You are going swimming. No, you can’t.”

My neighbor voiced her concern once again about the precautions to be taken during Ghost Month but I love swimming, especially during summer.  It is a way to cool off from the heat and humidity of Taiwan and it is an enjoyable exercise on those hot days when running and biking seem off limits.  I have to admit that I also love swimming during Ghost Month.  During this time, I basically have the pool facilities to myself.  I can enjoy the pool, steam room, jacuzzi, and other amenities in a relaxing atmosphere.  But, it is believed that is it dangerous to swim during Ghost Month and this form of recreation should be avoided.  Many believe that the ghosts will pull you into the water.  So far luck has been on my side!

What? Going to France next week! No, No, No!  You can’t.  It’s not good.”

I could hear panic in my neighbor’s voice when I told her about our travel plans immediately after our move.  I found out that traveling long distances by plane, boat, or car should also be avoided during Ghost Month.  I quickly found out that vacationing during this time is also a huge no no!  Travel should be avoided along with staying at hotels.  It is believed that the further away from home you are, the more vulnerable you are!  I had the most amazing flight to France, smooth with absolutely no turbulence and our stay in France was absolutely incredible, expect for one of the passenger’s cat getting sick, vomiting, and stinking the entire train HGV car. 

As a side note, our neighbor felt at ease when we informed her that our wedding date was not during Ghost Month.  She was relieved and said our marriage would be a successful one since it was a great date to get married according to the lunar calendar and it was taking place after Ghost Month.

Some other precautions taken during Ghost Month are as follows:

Couples refrain from making life-long commitments during this month.  Getting married, engaged, or any other commitment is a no-no during ghost month. 

Whistling is be avoided during Ghost Month.  Whistling sounds are believed to attract ghosts and is an open invitation to enter your home.

One shouldn’t start a business or make a big business deal.  The commencement of something this big could lead to negative results.

Don’t have an operation during this time.  Just like the previous one, there is a possibility of negative results.

I have heard of others like avoid wearing black because ghosts gravitate towards this color, be sure to take in your laundry before dark because wandering ghosts have a habit of wearing clothes, and refrain from saying the ‘g’ word (ghost) as they may feel you are calling them. 

Do you believe in superstitions?  If you do, what are some of them?  If you don’t, how do you feel when people voice their concerns about your actions (or lack there of)?

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People in Taiwan ‘Bai Bai’ during Ghost Month

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4 thoughts on “Ghost Month: Watch Your P’s and Q’s

  1. Awesome article! i did not there were so many taboos surrounding the ghost festival. I am currently in mainland China and if temples are busier than usual with people burning ghost money, joss paper and incense, everything else look normal.

  2. I read your post today and had to go back and find out all the superstitions! When is ghost month supposed to take place, or does it change every years like lunar New Year?

    I am not superstitious, and so I would have been in the pool with you, enjoying the empty facilities!

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