The Hungry Ghost Festival is a traditional Chinese holiday celebrated in many communities around the world. In Hong Kong, it’s an especially exciting time take part in one of the city’s oldest traditions. The kids will be intrigued with all the entertainment surrounding this holiday (like the colourful Chinese operas in many public parks). In return for some good luck, make sure to leave some offerings of oranges and tea on your sidewalk for those hungry ghosts!
What: The Hungry Ghost Festival is also known as The Ghost Festival or Yu Lan. Some believe that the gates of Heaven and Hell are opened, allowing the departed to roam the earth for an entire month! During this festival, people will burn offerings such as paper money, incense and material goods for their ancestors and ghosts to use in the afterlife. A key component in this festival is – of course – food. It is important to leave food on your sidewalk to satisfy those appetites of the wandering hungry ghosts and bring some luck into your household.
When: This year, the Ghost Month started from Friday, 17 August and runs until Saturday, 15 September. And this year’s Ghost Day falls on Friday, 31 August.
The Story Behind the Holiday: In the seventh month of the lunar calendar (Ghost Month), the Chinese believe hungry ghosts and wandering spirits roam the earth, particularly on the 15th day (Ghost Day). Linked to ancestor worship, citizens have been known to burn fake money and elaborate paper versions of material goods, such as cellphones and even purses so the departed can use them in the afterlife. On the eve of Ghost Day, many families will get together and prepare a large feast for the hungry ghosts, in order to be left in peace. Some even go to the temple and bring offerings, often their ancestors’ favourite foods.
Fun things to do to Celebrate: The main highlight of this festival are the colourful performances of Chinese operas and live dramas, played out on temporary bamboo stages in various parks and piazzas around town… guaranteed to entertain the little kiddos! Keep a look out for people burning incense, joss paper and distributing free rice on the road side. And place some oranges and tea on your sidewalk for good luck!