Kaladkarin Diaries

Ramblings about food, cooking, recipes, travels, history and walking around Manila.

The Hungry Ghost Month

It’s the 7th month of the lunar calendar once again. My mom kept reminding me to clear my schedule for August 18th so we could prepare for the offerings for the hungry ghosts. Yes, you heard me right. My family follows the tradition for the hungry ghost month. And every year, we fuss with the food that we’re going to use as offerings.


The Altar


Essentials like the Joss paper and incense are always the first purchases, followed by the fruits then the ingredients for the feast. Of course, drink with alcohol is also on the list.


money and alcohol… hmmm

We don’t really follow any standard food to be offered. But fruits, sponge cakes, sweets should always be there. The roasted chicken complete with the neck and feet and a whole fish are part of the list and the rest, we went freestyle.




shanghai rolls


pork ribs with taro in coconut milk


glass noodles/sotanghon…



crabs in XO sauce





mixed vegetables with quail eggs

The Hungry Ghost Festival is one of several celebrated traditions where the ghosts of ancestors including mischievous and unhappy ones are believed to wander starting on the first day of the 7th lunar month, wandering around for days looking for some entertainment or mischief and getting hungry on the last day of the Ghost Month.

Family members usually offer sacrifice to their deceased ancestors and relatives during the month and on the Ghost day. They are honored with delicious food three times a day on a table. The family’s ancestral tablets and photographs will be put on the table with incense burning near them. People also pay tribute to those unknown wandering ghosts with food and burn joss paper to please the ghosts on the 15th (some places on the 14th) day of the 7th lunar month to avoid the harm by them.

Buddhists and Taoists usually perform ceremonies on the day to help the ghosts ease the sufferings. They will set altars for them and chant scriptures. Monks often throw rice or some small foods into the air to distribute them to the ghosts.

On the evening of the Ghost day, people also make lanterns and let it float on the river to help their relatives find their way back to home. The lanterns are usually lotus flower-shaped with light or candles. Some people also write their ancestors’ name on the lanterns.

As the ghosts and the suffering spirits will come out from the hell to visit their homes during the 7th lunar month (the ghost month), many things should be avoided during this month including the ghost day.

  1.  Stroll at night.
  2.  Spit on the street or tree.
  3.  Stare at the candlelight or burning fire.
  4.  Step on or Kick offering items / joss sticks along the Roadside.
  5.  Cover up your forehead at night; always pin or put up your hair as high as possible.
  6.  Stare at “them” if you really saw one; look or walk away calmly.
  7.  Make funny jokes or comments on any display altar / offering items along the street.
  8.  Look underneath the altar table when there is a prayer session.
  9.  Shift your eyes from left to right or right to left repeatedly if you sensed something; always look straight and walk toward your destination calmly.
  10. Sniff and follow any pleasant or sweet smell ahead of you.
  11. Sit on the first few Front Rows of any public Chinese Operas.
  12. Open your umbrella at night, especially red color ones.
  13. Wear red colored clothes and walk alone at  night.
  14. Pick up any unique items found on the street or road.
  15. Stand under a Tree in the middle of the night.
  16. Wait at The Bus Stop after Midnight especially already passed the bus service operating hours.
  17. Whistle alone at night; you may found someone singing along with you.
  18. Hang your clothes outside in the middle of the night.
  19. Walk in the dark and near the walls; something maybe visible at your side view.
  20. Answer or respond when someone calls you, especially from behind.
  21. Turn your head when someone pat on your shoulders in the middle of the street.
  22. Get married, open a business or look for a new job.
  23. Comb your hair in front of the mirror in the middle of the night.
  24. Shout or scream in the middle of the night, stay as quiet as possible if you felt sudden coldness.
  25. Get emotional and cry in the middle of the night.
  26. Leave your bleeding wounds in a open air; always cover up the area with plasters or other bandage materials.
  27. Be a curious person or hero, if you hear some “strange” sound or noise, especially soft crying tone; always act blur.
  28. Swim in the pool or lake in the middle of the night; something maybe waiting to pull your legs.
  29. Play at the playground in the middle of the night; especially the swing.
  30. Take up the challenge to enter cemetery area or abandoned houses.


My family doesn’t really follow everything to the dot, but it is observed every year for precaution.

Does your family still follow this tradition?




One comment on “The Hungry Ghost Month

  1. Yana
    August 18, 2016

    Yeah, we do. Had to take a leave at work to do the rituals.


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