So I wondered the other day why there were so many little stands set up all over town laden with fruit and burning incense… not just in front of tiny shops, but also in the lobbies of skyscrapers. As it turns out Halloween comes early in Asia. (All that follows was culled from Wikipedia, but verified by a few locals we had dim sum with yesterday.)
“In Chinese tradition, the fifteenth day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar is called Ghost Day and the seventh month in general is regarded as the Ghost Month, in which ghosts and spirits, including those of the deceased ancestors, come out from the lower realm.” I was down in Stanley Market last week and stopped into this temple with our realtor where the celebrating, or whatever you would call it, was going strong.
“Distinct from both the Qingming Festival (in Spring) and Chung Yeung Festival (in Autumn) in which living descendants pay homage to their deceased ancestors, on Ghost Day, the deceased are believed to visit the living.”
“Intrinsic to the celebration is ancestor worship, where traditionally the filial piety of descendants extends to their ancestors even after their deaths.”
“Activities during the month include preparing ritualistic food offerings, burning incense, and burning joss paper, a papier-mache form of material items such as clothes, gold and other fine goods for the visiting spirits of the ancestors.”
People regularly light incense in groups of three sticks at a time because three is a lucky number.
“To avoid being harassed by outcasts, people also offer sacrifices to the homeless ghosts as well as to their ancestors on this day.” Dragon fruit is in the center of this offering and is what the Mr. would want me to leave out for him if he ever became a ghost 😉