Lately as I've been out walking, I've noticed many more sacrifices than usual in the streets. The reason? It is Ghost Month here in Taiwan. Here are some quick facts I received from a missionary friend:
What is Ghost month?
Ghost month always occurs during the seventh lunar month (usually August for us Westerners). During this month, the Chinese believe that ghosts and spirits, including those of the dead ancestors, come out from the lower realm and roam the earth. On the fifteenth day of the month ("Ghost Day"), the deceased are believed to visit the living.
What happens during Ghost month?
During Ghost month, the Chinese perform extra acts of worship to honor their ancestors and appease the spirits. They prepare ritualistic food offerings, burn incense, and burn and joss paper (papier-mache form of material items such as clothes and other goods for the visiting spirits). Elaborate meals are served with empty seats for each of the deceased, and miniature paper boats and lanterns are released on rivers to guide lost spirits.
All over Taiwan, Ghost month is regarded with a great deal of superstition.