The Hungry Ghost Festival ~ Kwentology

WHEN: 15th Day of Seventh Lunar Month (July-August)

Halloween isn't the only night when spirits come back to haunt. The Hungry Ghost Festival is similar holiday, only it's observed in China and eastern Asia. According to Chinese beliefs, the seventh lunar month is known as Ghost Month, a time when the souls of the dead return from the underworld to roam among the living. The ghosts are not just beloved ancestors, but also forgotten souls who are restless and "hungry" for what people on Earth have. To calm these spirits, people burn offerings made of paper, such as fake money, houses, cars, and furniture. They also burn incense and leave food and tea for the ghosts. Some festivals feature puppet shows and performances. The first row of seats is always left empty for the ghosts.

At night, families gather at a river or stream to float homemade paper lanterns. The lanterns are shaped like the lotus flower, which is a symbol for purity and enlightenment. As the lights float downstream, people hope they will guide the spirits back to the underworld.

Image of Floating Paper Lanterns

During Ghost Month, people float handmade paper lanterns to guide the spirits back to the underworld.

Image of Burning Fake Money and Other Paper-Made Items

People burn fake money and other items made from paper to calm the spirits during the Hungry Ghost Festival.

Day of the Dead

Image of Decorated Gravesites, Pan de Muerto and Sugar Skulls

Decorated gravesites (top), Pan de Muerto (center), and sugar skulls (bottom), are all part of this ancient Mexican holiday.

On November 2, Mexicans honor their dead ancestors in a holiday called El Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead). The holiday started as an ancient Aztec celebration of death. Today, families remember their loved ones by visiting cemeteries and decorating graves with yellow and orange marigolds. People often picnic at the gravesite, enjoying traditional foods such as Pan de Muerto, a sweet bread, and skulls made of sugar. At home, relatives set up shrines, placing mementos, candles, and favorite foods of the deceased inside little altars.
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