Here in Taiwan, we are in the midst of ghost month.
Ghost month is all about roaming hungry spirits. According to Chinese culture, for one whole month, ghosts are released from hell to roam the world, and their living relatives appease them by offering food and other goods like money and clothes. After one month, they go back to hell and things return to normal for the living.
One of my favorite things about ghost month is Hsinchu City's parade. Last weekend, we headed downtown with a bunch of friends and joined the sea of people all wanting to catch a glimpse of this surreal and eerie procession. A coworker explained to me that these giant figures are generals, otherwise known as spiritual police, whose job it is to ward off and capture evil spirits.
Besides depending on these generals to keep you safe, other traditions persist about how to live with ghosts during ghost month. At first, I thought some were really silly and strange, but then I remembered that my culture tells children to leave cookies for a fat man who breaks into their homes and leaves gifts.
In order to stay safe during this spooky month, people are advised to follow these rules. There are more, but these were some of my favorites:
No going out alone at night
No whistling, especially at nighttime
No picking up money off the street
No killing bugs in your house
No hanging up clothes outside to dry
No leaning against a wall
And my favorite: no peeing on trees
(If you want to know the logic behind these rules,
check out this article!)
I don't know about you, but if I was a roaming spirit, these tall & ornate generals sure would scare me away!
When we finally left the parade, we were hot & sweaty & reeked of firework smoke. And I am pretty sure our lungs and ears were permanently damaged, but I absolutely cannot wait to go back next year!