Surviving Ghost Month 2022


Chinese Filipinos (Chinoys) are one of the largest overseas Chinese communities in Southeast Asia with Chinese immigration to the Philippines occurring mostly during the Spanish colonization of the islands between the 16th and 19th centuries. The most recent data on the Chinoy population was in 2013, from the Senate of the Philippines, which approximates 1.35 million pure Chinese, while Filipinos with Chinese descent comprised 22.8 million of the population. The actual current figures, however, are not known since the Philippine census does not usually take into account questions about ethnicity.

That said, it is not unusual for our people to practice traditions from China. One of these is the observance of Ghost Month or Hungry Ghost Festival held for one month every year. Ghost Month for 2022 started July 29 and ends on Aug. 26.

The Chinese believe that the spirits of ancestors roam during the Ghost Month. They prepare food offerings and burn joss paper and incense to honor their ancestors. But unlike other festivals, Ghost Month is believed to be the scariest month of the year. It is believed that on the first day of the month, the gates of hell open and the ghosts are free to roam the earth for a month. On the last day of the month, the gates of hell close and welcome back the spirits, including the “hungry ghosts" that are supposedly beings sent to hell to suffer an eternal state of hunger for their sins, or for not having received a proper burial.

But don't fret! It's not too late to get re-acquainted with the do's and the don’ts of Ghost Month. If you're new to this annual Chinese celebration, here are a few tips to keep out of the way of the hungry ghosts who are believed to roam the world of the living in search for food, money, entertainment, and even souls.

1. Wear bright colors like yellow and pink. This goes without saying, to avoid dark colored clothes like
black and navy blue, but as well as red as these colors supposedly attract spirits.

2. Offer fruits, candies and flowers, and light some incense. Do not eat the food you offer!

3. Wear crystals and semi precious gems to ward off negativity and to protect you from unwanted energies including harmful spirits. feng shui believes each crystal has its own energy and will help you get through this month.

The Ghost Month during the pandemic was actually one of the most successful months for my online shop called Tocador Boutique on Instagram, where I, together with a feng shui expert and artists, customized semi precious jewelry made from real crystals and gems sourced from different parts of the globe but sold for a fraction of a cost compared to other stores. I am half Chinese and have worked with feng shui practitioners before, so this is my way of sharing a family tradition and hopefully, goodl uck to others.

4. Remove wind chimes above a doorway, balcony, or window because wind chimes sound similar to the ringing of the soul and hungry souls might think you're inviting them into your homes when they hear it ring.

1. Stop taking selfies at night unless you want a surprise photo bomber. Do not stay outside too late at
night, especially children, the elderly, and pregnant women. It is believed that during the festival, the ghosts are strongest at night because of the yin energy. It would be good to go home before sunset.

2. Don't open an umbrella indoors as umbrellas were believed to be used to collect souls or were good hiding places for hungry ghosts.

3. Don't start a business or construction, nor buy a new house or car.

4. Avoid swimming or any water activity. Water ghosts are said to seek out active victims to reincarnate that day and will try to drown people.

5. Do not pick up money on the street. The money is supposed to bribe the guards of hell. If you take that
money, it may offend them.

6. Don't hang clothes outside at night. The wandering ghosts are said to try on the clothes, and you might be bringing unwanted spirits when you bring in the laundry.

As with any culture, we often hear the adage – to each his, or her own – but if these harmless do's and don’ts can help you feel more at ease, then take a shot and see what works best for you.