Friday, August 5, 2016

Ghost month activities in Taiwan for 2016 include floats down the river in Keelung and a competition in Yilan County



This year “Ghost Month” falls between August 3rd and September 1st in Taiwan

Although it may sound terrifying, the ceremonies and cultural festivals that take place during Ghost Month in Taiwan at this time make it a very unique time to visit. 

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WHEN IS GHOST MONTH?

The seventh month in the Taiwanese lunar calendar is the “Ghost Month,” a time when spirits of the dead wander the Earth. 

The festivals, rituals, athletic feats and elaborate banquets held at this time are aimed at appeasing the spirits. For example, visitors to Taiwan will see huge banquets laid out on tables in the open air – but only ghostly diners are invited. 

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DINNERS FOR GHOSTS ONLY

Normal food is said to turn to fire on the lips of ghosts, so they are offered special foods prepared while reciting sutras. This food is laid out on long tables, sometimes with individual settings.

No one will sit down to eat. However, when priests have ascertained through divination that the ghosts are full, local people will take the food home. 

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CEREMONIES FOR GHOST MONTH
INCLUDE FLOATS IN KEELUNG CITY

There are two ceremonies during “Ghost Month” which are unique to Taiwan. 

In the fishing community of Bisha near Keelung City on Taiwan's northeast coast, beautifully lit lanterns are paraded through the city's streets on decorated floats, when night falls, the people quietly launch floating lanterns onto the sea. 

This year this traditional mid-summer ceremony will take place on August 18th in Keelung City

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GRAPPLING WITH GHOSTS 
IN YILAN COUNTY

The second is the Grappling with Ghosts event held at Toucheng in Yilan County

Here teams of young men compete to climb greased tree trunks, swing themselves over an elevated platform, and then scramble up bamboo lattices to be the first to cut down a flag. 

In addition to winning the town's admiration and cash prizes, the winners sell the flags to fishing boat captains who believe they will protect their boats and crew in the year to come. This exciting event takes place during the last three days of “Ghost Month”

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LEGENDS AND PRACTICES
DURING GHOST MONTH
IN TAIWAN

Legend has it that the gates of hell open on the first day of the Lunar month and close on the last. So everyone is a little on edge during this time. 

Tradition also requires that the word “ghost” is never spoken during this month, and the spirits are referred to as “good brothers.” 

The “Ghost Month” is an important cultural festival in Taiwan, in addition to these rituals and ceremonies, events take place all across the island.

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