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