Halloween Vs Chinese Ghost Festival

万圣节 (Wàn shèng jié) Halloween

Trick or Treat? Happy Halloween! Have you been attending costume parties, carving jack-o’-lanterns, lighting bonfires, bobbing for apples, visiting ghost houses, telling scary stories and watching horror films?

National Geographic has made a informative video about the history of Halloween, enjoy while having fun in all sorts of commercialised activities!

中元节 (Zhōng yuán jié) Chinese Ghost Festival

On the other hand, there is a Chinese Ghost Festival, 中元节 (Zhōng yuán jié), on the 14th of the seventh lunar month of every year. Below is a two paragraphs I found at About.com which covers almost all you need to know about that festival.

It is believed that the Gates of Hell are sprung open to allow ghosts and spirits access to the world of the living on the first day of the seventh lunar month. The spirits can then spend the month visiting their families, feasting and and looking for victims. During this festival Chinese people will burn fake money notes known as ‘ghost money’; this practice extends to burning models of material possessions like paper televisions or radios, and some families have been known to burn paper houses & cars to give to their dead relatives. The Chinese believe that these offerings will reach their ancestors and help them live comfortably in the afterworld.

Halloween - 1
Halloween - 2

Almost as important as honoring your ancestors, offerings to ghosts without families must be made, so that they will not cause you any harm. Ghost month is the most dangerous time of the year, and malevolent spirits are on the look out to capture souls. This makes ghost month a bad time to do activities such as evening strolls, traveling, wedding, moving house, or starting a new business. Many people avoid swimming during ghost month, since there are many spirits in the water which can try to drown you. The 14th day of that month is the day when the spirits are in high gear. Taoists and Buddhists perform ceremonies on this day to ease the sufferings of the deceased. The last day of the month is when the Gates of Hell are closed up again. The chants of Taoist priests inform the spirits that it’s time to return, and as they are confined once again to the underworld, they let out an unearthly wail of lament.

Mandarin Vocabulary for Ghost Month

English Pinyin Traditional Characters Simplified Characters
altar shén tán 神壇 神坛
ghost guǐ
vampire jiāng shī 殭屍 僵尸
ghost money zhǐ qián 紙錢 纸钱
incense xiāng
ghost month guǐ yuè 鬼月 鬼月
feast gōng pǐn 供品 供品
offerings jì bài 祭拜 祭拜


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