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What Is Orbiting in Dating? When “Ghosting” Leads to an Online Orbiter

ghost month last day

Dating in the current social media world is tricky. Imagine you’re dating someone and, one day, they suddenly cut off all direct and meaningful communication with you. Sounds a bit like ghosting, right? Well, say they break it off but, all the while, continue to engage with you more subtly on social media. Long-term relationships that end in a break up come with even more social media fallout. And this all relates to a common phenomenon in today’s digital (dating) age known as orbiting. 

Your ex may no longer be actively commenting on your photos or sliding into your DMs, but maybe they like your posts, view your TikTok uploads, or continue to engage with you in other superficial ways on a regular basis. It’s possible they’re seeing your content thanks to those pesky algorithms. And, maybe, they’re interacting with your socials in good faith. Still, it can sting. Not to mention, maybe you’re also being fed their posts and photos, making it harder to move on post-breakup or ghosting. 

Orbiting is certainly a newer dating occurrence — something we’re just starting to put a finger on. Now that we’ve named it, though, let’s delve into everything you need to know about orbiting and how the trend might be impacting your mental health. 

What Is Orbiting?

Orbiting in dating is when you cut off direct contact with the person you’re dating but continue to engage with their content on social media. It’s been dubbed “the new ghosting,” and, following an essay by Anna Iovine in 2018, gained more momentum in the pop-culture discourse. 

Maybe you haven’t been the orbiter, but have found yourself being orbited. No matter the case, orbiting generally stems from a person’s desire to keep a former romantic partner or ex in their “social orbit.” Engaging in orbiting can make you feel closer to your ex, which can ultimately lead to some real pitfalls and toxic behavior.

For example, an orbiter can track who their ex has been with and where they’ve traveled. Mostly, orbiting gives the perpetrator a fake sense of comfort — the feeling that their former lover is still on their radar. 

ghost month last day

The concept of orbiting is gaining tremendous popularity, especially online, because of the increased interconnectedness between dating apps and social media. As a result, many people experience a situation where they’re ghosted — or one of the partner’s calls it off after a few dates — only to find they’re still very much connected.

Because of the interconnectedness of it all, social media platforms might suggest you follow your now-ex or serve you their content because you still follow each other and, presumably, once talked a lot. Not to mention, if you’ve ended things with a Tinder date, there’s no guarantee that you won’t stumble upon them on Hinge or Bumble, too. 

Multiple studies show that social media boosts the brain’s feel-good chemicals, all while providing a false sense of intimacy. For instance, using social media for just 10 minutes increases oxytocin levels by 13% , causing you to feel happier. A “like” on Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat can be exciting when it comes from a crush or someone you’re actively dating, but the same form of interaction can feel extremely confusing, uncomfortable and infuriating when it comes from an ex. 

So, Why Do People Orbit?

Orbiters do what they do for a variety of reasons, but Iovine, the author of the 2018 article on the topic, suggests three theories for why someone would suddenly end direct communication and still maintain a social media presence and connection. The first theory? It’s a power move. Psychologists suggest that maintaining a presence on somebody’s social media profile is a diplomatic measure. It’s a way of letting them know you’re on good terms.

Maybe you’ve stayed friends with distant relatives or old friends on social media, despite differing opinions and interests, just for the sake of smoother sailing, but, when it comes to dating, it’s not so simple. According to The Daily Beast ’s Taylor Lorenz, an orbiter might be deploying this so-called “power move” in order to keep the door open with an ex. 

But that’s just one of three reasons for orbiting. Iovine suggests that someone can orbit because they lack awareness of why that might not be okay. Maybe the orbiter didn’t take the break up as hard and can’t see why cropping up on their ex’s social media would be so hurtful, for example. But staying friends on Facebook or Instagram with an ex is more than just “keeping in touch” — it can feel challenging to untangle your feelings and move on if you’re constantly seeing what the orbiter is up to post your relationship. 

And, finally, an orbiter might start circling you for the fear of missing out . Maybe they don’t feel ready to date you, but they’re concerned that if they were to eliminate you from their orbit completely, they’d miss an opportunity to reconnect later. After all, social media platforms allow for voyeurism and orbiting, at least in this case, is a way to keep tabs on a person the orbiter might want to date in the future. 

Orbiting and Mental Health 

Online dating and the various apps we use can already contribute to poor mental and emotional health. But, in many ways, turning to Tinder might feel like the only way to connect with potential partners. As we’ve noted in other dating discussions , “Match Group, the parent company of popular dating apps like Match, OKCupid, Tinder and Hinge, has seen a reported ‘15% increase in new subscribers’ during 2020.” 

In Online Dating Is a Blessing and a Curse — But Mostly a Curse , Caleb Bailey writes that, “Dating app burnout was on the rise for a myriad of reasons in 2019 BC (Before COVID); verbal, emotional, and sexual harassment were par for the course that year. But once the pandemic hit, online dating became the sole recourse for millions of people around the globe.” So many of us are engaging in online dating, connecting our Instagrams with various dating apps. And that makes the toll all the worse when it comes to break ups and orbiters. 

The relationship between orbiting and mental health has not been widely explored — yet. However, the existing scientific evidence on the phenomenon suggests that it has a negative effect on emotional and psychological well-being.

ghost month last day

For instance, orbiting leads to mixed messages. Cutting off communication but keeping tabs on social media is… confusing, right? It raises a lot of questions. If you’re the one who is being orbited, these mixed signals might result in some conflicting feelings . Breaking off communication — no texts or calls — is a common way to help both parties move on after a break up. But keeping that social media presence — and, worse, passively “liking” an ex’s posts — might imply the orbiter does still care. Without a doubt, orbiting makes healing harder. After all, orbiting blurs boundaries and keeps you thinking about the person you’re supposed to be moving on from. 

But it’s not just an orbiter’s direct actions that can mess with you. Sometimes, just seeing their posts pop up in your feed can be troubling. The phrase “no one posts their failures” on social media is true. Instagram users only post their best moments (and best lighting), so, when you get an ex’s highlights, it can lead to some big feelings.

Maybe you’ll feel they’ve curated this near-perfect feed to make you jealous, or, on the other hand, maybe seeing them having fun in the immediate wake of your breakup hurts your self-esteem. Did the relationship mean as much to them if they can seemingly move on so quickly? 

Orbiting can also trigger a psychological response — confirmation bias . If you already hold a certain belief or feel a certain way, for example, searching your ex’s social media profiles for clues to support your perspective could lead you to spiral and ruminate. You might not even realize you’re orbiting someone. After all, taking a quick peek at someone’s social media reveals a lot, but it’s so commonplace that you might justify it as harmless. In reality, orbiting — no matter the intensity — can hurt all parties involved. 

While it may be difficult to avoid orbiting altogether — especially the more passive forms of it like Instagram suggesting you follow an ex time and again — muting your ex could be the best course of action. A full-on blocking might seem intense and unnecessary, but intentionally tuning them out for a bit will likely do wonders for your mental health.


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Ghost Month and the Hungry Ghost Festival: Key dates and events

The Ghost Month occurs in the seventh lunar month of the Chinese calendar, with the Hungry Ghost Festival happening in the middle of that period.

In the Chinese culture, the gates of hell and heaven are believed to be open during this month. The ghosts can then roam the living realm and the spirits of the deceased ancestors can return to visit the living.

Whether you're a believer or not, here are some key dates and events to note during this seventh lunar month (All dates are for 2023).

1. The night before the first day of the Ghost Month (15 August)

To mark the opening of the gates of hell and heaven, people will prepare food offerings and burn incense, candles, and joss paper, also known as paper money.

As both good and evil spirits are believed to start to enter the living realm, these offerings are to appease the roaming ghosts and pray for safety.

While the offerings differ from family to family, they generally include loose tea leaves, peanuts, candies, and fruits like oranges that symbolise good luck.

A few may prepare more traditional items like uncooked rice, raw noodles, and rice wine for the “hungry ghosts”.

To keep things simple, shops that sell incense have also come up with package deals that consist of joss paper and simple food offerings like loose tea leaves and candies.

2. Hungry Ghost Festival (30 August)

The Hungry Ghost Festival, a traditional Taoist and Buddhist festival, falls on the 15th day of the Ghost Month.

It marks the peak of the month, when it's believed all the spirits are now in the living realm.

Celebrations become more elaborate during this period, such as holding feasts and auctions at the HDB void decks or temples.

This is also the day when people would prepare a table of food for the visiting spirits of the ancestors. The food offerings include bowls of cooked rice and dishes that the ancestors enjoyed.

For a more sumptuous meal, some may add roast chicken and roast pork. Huat kueh , the Chinese steamed cake that symbolises prosperity, may also be offered.

While people generally burn incense and joss paper for their deceased ancestors on this day, some may also burn paper replicas.

These include watches, jewellery, luxury villas, sports cars, and clothes. The more modern-day paper items feature technology like laptops and mobile phones. The offerings are similar to those of the Qing Ming Festival.

3. Getai performances

One of the most significant activities during the Ghost Month is getai, which literally means "song stage".

It is a colourful live performance for not just people to enjoy, but also the spirits, who will "occupy" the first row of seats. Remember not to sit in the first row, even though it's "empty"!

Although the getai performances are usually meant for the Ghost Month, they also extend way past the month at times.

Previously, when pandemic restrictions due to COVID-19 were in place, getais even went online.

4. The last day of the Ghost Month (14 September)

The last day of the Ghost Month is when all the spirits are believed to return to where they came from.

To give them a proper send-off, people would prepare food offerings and burn incense and joss paper again.

Here's what you need to know about the Hungry Ghost Festival and the Ghost Month .

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2024 Chinese Ghost Festival, August 18, 2024

Chinese ghost month and festival.

The Ghost Month is the seventh lunar month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar . The 15th lunar day of the 7th lunar month is the Chinese Ghost Festival. The Chinese formal name of the Ghost Festival is Chung-Yuan 中元. The first lunar day of the 7th lunar month is on August 4, 2024. August 18, 2024, is the 15th lunar day, which is the Chinese Ghost Festival. The first lunar day of the 8th lunar month is on September 3, 2024. Therefore, Ghost Month is from August 4 to September 2 in the China time zone.

Many Chinese families have both Buddhism and Taoism as their religions. The dead souls before reincantation are called ghosts. Most of them are jailed in hell. The folklore says the ghosts have one-month parole and will roam the towns in the 7th lunar month every year. People have better feasting on them. People are afraid that ghosts play trick-or-treat games. That is why the Chinese call the 7th lunar month "Ghost Month".

Buddha's Story and Ghost Festival

To feast on the ghosts is from a Buddhist story. Moggallana 目犍連 was one of Buddha Shakyamuni 's best disciples. He had various supernormal powers with his divine eyes. One day, he saw his deceased mother had been born among hungry ghosts. He went down to hell and filled a bowl with food to provide for his mother. Before reaching his mother's mouth, the food turned into burning coals that couldn't be eaten. Moggallana cried sorrowfully and asked for help from Buddha. Buddha said the sins of his mother were deep and firmly rooted; they couldn't be forgiven just by only using divine power. It required the combined power of a thousand monks to get rid of her sins. The Buddha told Moggallana that, " the 15th day of the 7th lunar month is the Ullambana Day for the assembled monks of all directions. You should prepare an offering of clean basins full of hundreds of flavors and the five fruits, and other offerings of incense, oil, lamps, candles, etc. to the greatly virtuous assembled monks. Your present parents and the parents of seven generations will escape from suffering." Following Buddha's instructions, Moggallana's mother obtained liberation from suffering as a hungry ghost by receiving the power of merit and virtue from the awesome spiritual power of assembled monks on the 15th day of the 7th lunar month. Today, similar rituals are held in the Buddhist temples on this day for the deliverance of all suffering spirits.

Chinese Ghost Festival Altar and Offerings

Chinese Ghost Festival Altar

People at home prepare lots of food to worship the gods and pray for the spirits of their ancestors, and then treat the homeless ghosts. Some cities will spend weeks building a multi-story sacrificial altar. The Taoists will fast, take a bath, wear formal dress and perform the religious ceremony to pray for good luck for spirits on Chung-Yuan Day. The lighting decoration of the altar at night is the entertainment for ghosts. Certainly, Chinese parents will bring children there for sightseeing and to learn about the traditional culture.

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Hungry Ghost Festival

Hungry Ghost Festival (Ghost Month 2023)

The Hungry Ghost Festival is one of the most important traditional festivals in China. It is also named Zhongyuan Festival by Taoists, or Yulanpen Festival by Buddhists. The festival falls on the 15th day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar. Hungry Ghost Festival 2023 is on August 30. The Ghost Month 2023 is from August 16 to September 14.

The Chinese believe that during this period, the spirits of the ancestors roam the living realm. To appease them, people prepare food offerings and burn joss papers to honor their ancestors.

Ghost Month 2023

The Ghost Month 2023 is from August 16 to  September 14.   It is the 7th lunar month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar, usually falling in August. 

Ghost Month is believed the scariest time of the year.  During this period, the gates of hell open, allowing ghosts to roam freely and indulge themselves for a month. As such, people should be cautious to avoid any encounters with these spirits.

Ghost Month Start Day ( August 16, 2023): The gates of the underworld open, and all ghosts flee the afterlife. Ghosts who have a master will return to their homes, while the masterless spirits roam the mortal realm, meandering everywhere as they search for sustenance.

Ghost Month End Day (September 14, 2023) : The gates of Hell close once more, causing the spirits to return to their spiritual realm.

Ghost Day ( August 30, 2023): Known as the Hungry Ghost Festival, it's believed that ghosts are most active on this day. Chinese people burn incense and provide offerings to appease hungry ghosts, in order to prevent them from causing harm.  

Chinese people take care of the ghosts by paying respect to their ancestors and entertaining wandering spirits. Celebrations are held on the start and end dates of Ghost Month, with festivities reaching their peak on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month - the Ghost Hungry Festival Day). 

During Ghost Month, misfortunes such as poor health, property loss, and bad luck for families tend to increase. Consequently, people pay close attention and remain vigilant throughout the month.

It is wise to avoid making major decisions during this time. Initiating a new business or moving into a new house within the month is considered inauspicious.

Top 5 Hungry Ghost Festival Dos - How Do Chinese Celebrate the Festival?

1. Honoring ancestors for good blessings . People Put the family’s ancestral tablets and photographs on the home altar. They will tell what's been happening to their ancestors on their knees. They hope they can receive a blessing from their ancestors in this way.

2. Offering food to the ghosts :   Prepare food offerings three times a day, including three bowls of rice, three sets of chopsticks, and three cups of wine for the offering. Meats, fruits, and sweets are also common. Food offerings are placed on the altar for the ancestors first, and then taken outside for homeless ghosts.

3. Burning incense, Joss papers, and red candles:  Burn incense, Joss papers, red candles, and other items to please the ghosts. Paper effigies may include fancy cars, big houses, smartphones, and even gaming devices. These items are burned at home, outside the home, at bridges, or in fields. Chinese people believe ghosts will enjoy more prosperity with more paper effigies burned.

4. Holding live performances for wandering souls : The performances are free and always held at night for the entertainment of ghosts. The first and second rows of the seats are always left vacant, as they are specially reserved for the VIP unseen ghosts. 

5. Floating water lanterns:  People float water lanterns in rivers and lakes to dispel ill fortune and pray for blessings. The hungry ghosts will follow the lanterns back to their spiritual realm, carrying away bad luck at the same time.

12 Major Hungry Ghost Festival Don’ts

How can you avoid any potential encounters with ghosts during the festival? Here are 10 major don'ts to help you stay safe.

1 . Don’t stay out too late at night.  This is especially important for children, elders, and pregnant women. During the festival, ghosts are at their strongest at night due to the Yin (阴) energy. It is wise to return home before sunset.

2.  Don't do any water activities . Water ghosts will look for victims to reincarnate on the day and may try to drown people in the water. Stay away from water activities during Ghost Month.

3.  Don't touch food offerings : The offerings by the roadside or in fields are prepared for ghosts. Touching or stepping on the offerings could 'offend' the ghosts.

4.  Don't pick up money on the street : The money is meant to bribe the guards of hell. Taking the money may offend them

5.  Avoid wearing red or black clothing : These two colors are particularly enticing to ghosts and can attract unwanted attention.

6.  Don't hang clothes outside at night : Wandering ghosts may try on the clothes, and then be inadvertently brought inside along with the clothes.

7.  Avoid scheduling major life events like moving to a new house, weddings, business openings, and medical operations.

8. Don't kill butterflies, especially those that enter your home, as they're believed to be visiting spirits.

9.   Don't open an umbrella indoors : Wandering ghosts seek shelter on this day, and opening an umbrella indoors could be seen as an invitation for them.

10.  Don't stick your chopsticks vertically into your bowl , as gods or ghosts may mistake it for an offering. This is because, during regular rituals, chopsticks are often inserted into offerings.

11.  Don't hang wind chimes at home.  While many enjoy the pleasant sound of wind chimes, caution is necessary during the Ghost Festival (7th lunar month). As ghosts are known to wander and be drawn to the sound, this can lead to unwelcome spiritual encounters. It's recommended to remove any wind chimes from your home during this time.

12.  Don't take photos during the festival,  as cameras might accidentally capture unintended sightings.

Hungry Ghost Festival Legends

Chinese celebrated the festival since the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220). The spirits and ghosts return to roam the earth during ghost month. Those who had relatives would return home to visit the living. Their family members offer prayers, food, and drinks for them. For the homeless ghosts, no one feeds them properly. Thus they will wander around and bring potential harm and misfortunes to the living.

Taoists and Buddhists perform special ceremonies and traditions to honor the spirits of ancestors  and to protect against ghosts’ attacks . People believe the dead ancestors can bless and protect them during the festival in this way.

Hungry Ghost Festival in Other Asian Counties

Singapore and malaysia.

 The Ghost (Hungry Ghost) Festival 2023 in Singapore and Malaysia will take place on August 21st. The Ghost Month will last from August 12 to September 9, 2023.

Singaporeans and Malaysian please the ghosts with live performances. The activity will last the whole seventh month of the lunar calendar. The shows include Chinese operas, songs, dances, and so on. Show times are from 8:00 at night to 12.00 AM midnight. Don’t sit in the seats in the first row; they are left empty for the ghosts.

In Japan, the Ghost Festival is also known as Oben Festival. It is a traditional Buddhist custom to remember the ancestors. The festival lasts for three days, from the 13th to the 15th day of the 7th month.

Japanese observed the festival at different times in different regions depending on calendars. On the first day, people will hang lanterns in front of houses to guide the ghosts back home. On the last day, floating lanterns are put into rivers to guide the ghosts back to their world.

In Thailand, the ghost festival, known as the Por Tor (Hungry Ghost) Festival or Sart Chin, is celebrated in some parts of the country, particularly in Phuket. In 2023, the Por Tor Festival is expected to take place around August 21st. 

Related Traditional Chinese Festivals

  • Top 10 Traditional Festivals in China
  • Qingming Festival (Tomb Sweeping Day)
  • Double Ninth Festival (Chongyang Festival)

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Chinese Ghost Month

What's ghost month.

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Sacrificial Activities

Do's and don'ts.

In the Ghost Month, evil spirits reach the peak. According to the legend of scapegoat, children, senior citizens, weak or sensitive people should not go out at night, or they will be attacked by the evil spirits. Also, you should keep away from entering the water, especially sea. In short, you should stay away from risks and supernatural games, especially in the night of Ghost Festival. → Taboos to Avoid during Hungry Ghost Month Some people often take items to avoid evil spirits with them, such as amulet, prayer beads, coarse salt, glutinous rice, cross and lodestone with particular energy. It is better to believe the function of these items as long as your normal life is not affected. For many people, they can feel at ease regardless of the effect.

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Hungry ghost festival 2023 explained: burning effigies, incense & food offerings on the streets.

Family Life

All you need to know about the Hungry Ghost Festival 2023 in Singapore so you can explain this traditional Chinese festival to kids. Hungry Ghost Festival is held during the seventh month of the lunar calendar, aka Ghost Month!

The seventh month, August, is when the Hungry Ghost Festival 2023 takes place — it officially starts on 16 August 2023. If you’re seeing lots of incense candles and food offerings in your neighbourhood, it’s likely because people are observing Ghost Month. Let’s take a look at what the Hungry Ghost Festival 2023 in Singapore is all about.

The Hungry Ghost Festival is a traditional Chinese festival (also known as Zhong Yuan Jie 中元节 in Mandarin) and marks the opening of the Gates of Hell where the ghosts or spirits were able to return to Earth. Often called Chinese Ghost Festival, it’s celebrated by Buddhist and Taoist devotees to honour the memories of the deceased.

When is the Hungry Ghost Festival 2023?

Hungry Ghost Festival takes place traditionally on the 15th night of the 7th month which is sometimes called Chinese Ghost Month. This year, Ghost Day is on Wednesday 30 August 2023.

Traditionally Chinese people believed that the 7th lunar month was plagued with disasters so naturally they feared this month. The general belief is that it is unwise to make major decisions during this time. So ideally you don’t initiate a new business or move into a new house during the 7th month.

Hungry Ghost Festival 2023 Start and End Date

The ‘festivities’ of Hungry Ghost Festival are a month-long affair during the 7th month/Ghost month so the actual start date of Hungry Ghost Festival 2023 is 16 August 2023 and 14 September 2023 is the end date of the Hungry Ghost Festival.

Key Dates: Hungry Ghost Festival and Ghost Day

16 August 2023: the first day of the 7th lunar month: The Hungry Ghost Festival officially starts. It is said that on this day, the gates of hell open, allowing the deceased spirits to pass back into our world. 30 August 2023, is the 15th lunar day: This is Zhong Yuan Jie, also known as “Ghost Day,” when it’s believed that ghosts are most active. It is usual to burn joss paper and feed the ravenous spirits on this day. 14 September 2023: The Hungry Ghost Festival ends on the 29th day of the seventh month. The Gate of Hell is closed and ghosts go back. People offer sacrifices on this day to pray for safety for the rest of the year. *Do note the lunar calendar may change so always double-check dates.

hungry ghost festival

How is the Hungry Ghost Festival Celebrated?

During the Hungry Ghost Festival, the Chinese believe that ghosts and spirits, including deceased ancestors, roam the earth on a kind of ‘vacation’. During this ghost month and particularly on the 15th day, they wander around searching for food and entertainment or visit the living.

As a form of ancestor worship and to appease these spirits, all sorts of offerings are made during the Hungry Ghost Festival, especially on the three main days: the 1 st , 15 th and last day of the 7th month.

Offerings During Ghost Month/ Seventh Month

During Ghost Month (Seventh month) people will burn offerings in special metal cages set up outside housing estates and temples. Items such as paper money, incense candles/joss sticks and elaborate paper effigies of material goods, such as houses, cars, phones and even outfits are burned so the departed can use them in the afterlife. The paper creations are a marvel to see (you can often find them at HDB markets – there are shops offering them at Tiong Bahru market and Chinatown ).

Another important part of the offerings during the Hungry Ghost Festival is food. Those celebrating will leave food on the sidewalk or at temples to satisfy the ghosts’ appetites, appease their deceased family members and in return bring good luck.

What Not to Do During Hungry Ghost Festival 2023

The 7th month is considered an inauspicious month, so there are lots of ‘don’ts’ in order to avoid encountering ‘bad luck’. A few include:

  • Don’t move into a new house
  • Don’t start a new business
  • Don’t stay out late/go out at night
  • Don’t disturb the offerings
  • Don’t swim (and avoid any water activities)
  • Don’t hang your clothes outside to dry too late
  • Don’t pick up anything from the ground
  • Don’t turn your head when someone calls you
  • Don’t wear clothes with your name on it
  • Don’t whistle

During the seventh month, some families may get the kids to wear a small red triangular religious pendant (within the pendant are religious papers from the temple) to their shirts to protect them during this month. Some people keep the paper in their wallets and others wear religious bracelets during this time.

Hungry Ghost Festival guide

Singapore Hungry Ghost Festival Performances

One of the highlights of the Hungry Ghost Festival in Singapore is the colourful performances of Chinese operas and live drama ‘ getai’ performances. Getai  used to be a stage for traditional opera and puppet performances, with a majority of songs performed in dialects such as Hokkien. In Singapore, performances for the Hungry Ghost Festival have evolved to include modern pop songs in Chinese and even Korean.

Large tents are set up near housing estates with these performances as well as e-Getai – livestreamed performances online. If you do see any physical shows, visitors are welcome but always ensure you leave the front row of seats empty – those are for the honoured ghosts themselves!

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10 taboos to avoid on final day of Ghost Month in Taiwan

Special observances and customs to follow as gates of hell close.

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Taboos to avoid on the final day of Ghost Month. (Pexels photo) Taboos to avoid on the final day of Ghost Month. (Pexels photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Thursday (Sept. 14) is the last day of Ghost Month (鬼月), the seventh month of the lunar calendar, a time when Good Brothers (好兄弟) return to the underworld and the gates of hell ( 鬼門 ) officially close for one year.

According to fortune teller Xiao-Meng (小孟) of Pure Mo (清水孟), there are 10 taboos the public should avoid on the final day when the gates of hell remain open. His recommendations are as follows, per UDN .

1. Magnets. Do not place magnets in your home the night before the gates of hell close, as they will absorb spiritual energy, potentially preventing Good Brothers from leaving.

2. Food offerings for Pudu ( 普度 ) worship must all be eaten. If not, Good Brothers may be drawn to your home for another feast and may not want to leave.

3. Do not listen to Buddhist scriptures. Good Brothers may feel offended as you are appealing to a higher power and may not want to leave. This could also cause you to have nightmares.

4. Do not apply floral fragrances. If floral scents are too strong on the final day of Ghost Month, Good Brothers could be attracted to your home.

5. Put away dolls. Good Brothers could be tempted to inhabit and possess them.

6. Do not light candles at night. Good Brothers could be attracted to a faint light and be reluctant to leave.

7. Do not say goodbye . Good Brothers may hear these words and visit you.

8. Do not complain to your ancestors. Appealing to ancestors about family matters could spur your ancestors to return to the spirit world with resentment and affect your family's fortune.

9. Do not attempt to resolve your karmic creditors . Actions such as reciting sutras on the final day of Ghost Month may attract Good Brothers, who may seek you out the next time the gates of hell open.

10. Avoid giving birth on the final day of Ghost Month . If one happens to give birth on this day, a special prayer should be made to the Namo Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, asking for protection and assistance in achieving a successful birth and preventing Good Brothers from returning to the mortal world in the form of a newborn.


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Hungry Ghost Festival

8 Things you should never do during Hungry Ghost Festival

You've been warned...

The Hungry Ghost Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month every year, is landing on August 30 this year. As the gates of the underworld open up, spirits and ghouls of the departed escape and roam the earth. Since the vast majority of us are looking to enjoy the day’s vibrant celebrations completely ghost-free, here are eight timeless superstitions to follow during the festival. Lest you wish to sleep with the lights on...

RECOMMENDED:  If you love nothing more than spine-tingling tales about the supernatural, check out 10 of the spookiest stories in Hong Kong .

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Don't hang your clothes outside through the night

Don't hang your clothes outside through the night

Don't leave it outside on the balcony or out the window. The shapes of clothing is said to attract visiting spirits, who will gladly come over to ‘borrow’ your garments for the night. Apparitions may also leave behind their misfortune-inducing aura on your clothes. Yea, no thanks. As if doing the laundry wasn’t enough of a chore already, now we have to worry about ghosts possessing our favourite pair of jeans too.

Don't stand too close to the wall

Don't stand too close to the wall

When it comes to posing for the 'gram, you can never go wrong with leaning up against a cool-looking wall or having it as a clean background to show off your #OOTD. Well, you might want to hold off doing that during the Hungry Ghost Festival. According to Chinese folklore, walls naturally give off a cold and sinister aura, making them major hotspots for ghostly gatherings. It's also best to avoid any narrow alleyways – no matter how ‘grammable they might seem.

Don't take the last bus or train ride

Don't take the last bus or train ride

Feeling isolated when the last bus departs and there’s no one else on board? Don’t worry – you’re most likely, not alone. The last shift on public transport is often believed to be brimming with invisible customers, who are probably just waiting to pounce on the first vulnerable mortal they can find. So, be sure to avoid the last round of transport. You simply don’t know who you might end up sitting on.

Don't leave your slippers faced towards the bed

Don't leave your slippers faced towards the bed

It wouldn’t truly be the festival of ghosts if you were safe in your own home. Rumour has it that slippers act as compasses for victim-seeking phantoms, so pointing them towards your bed is like handing out the spiritual keys to your cosy abode. Of course, you could just circumvent this by not wearing slippers, but then you’d have to deal with an even scarier phenomenon – dirty feet.

Don't take pictures late at night

Don't take pictures late at night

If horror films like Shutter and Paranormal Activity have taught us anything at all, it’s that cameras and ghosts don’t mix. Thrill-seekers who dare to expose their lens at ungodly hours will run the risk of capturing ghosts in action, and could even end up trapping vengeful spirits in their cameras and phones. Unless you’re looking to be haunted by terrible misfortune and bad lighting, you should probably save that selfie for the next day.

Don't shave your legs

Don't shave your legs

Apparently, the consequences of leg hair removal stretch far beyond irritated skin and nasty cuts. There’s an old saying in Chinese that believes each strand of leg hair can scare away three ghosts, so removing these personal bodyguards is tantamount to sending out invitations to a personal ghost party. Guess beauty does come with a price.

Don't whistle at night

Don't whistle at night

Avoid whistling at night, regardless of how bored you might be. Whistling is said to attract roaming ghosts, who are just waiting for someone to point them in the direction of a spooky encounter. It is also widely believed that those who interrupt the peace of the night must pay a penalty, so it’s probably best to just keep quiet at night. 

Don't put your hand on someone's shoulder

Don't put your hand on someone's shoulder

According to Chinese folklore, we all have invisible flames on our shoulders that are essential in warding off evil spirits and misfortune. So, try not to get too chummy with your mates and avoid having hands on your shoulder as they might put out the flame – a small price to pay to avoid any ghastly surprises if you ask us.

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Hungry Ghost Festival 2023

Last Updated on 08-31-2023

A traditional festival with a lengthy history is the Hungry Ghost Festival. The Hungry Ghost Festival is celebrated every year in a number of locations around the middle of August. These celebrations include the Theatrical Presentations, Burning of joss paper, the releasing of water lanterns, etc., all of which are large-scale and have a joyous atmosphere. 

Buddhist Influence

Taoist practices, wandering spirits, when is the hungry ghost festival in 2023, offerings and prayers, ghost dinners, burning of joss paper, theatrical presentations, water and floating lanterns, street processions, ancestor worship, avoid going out at night, avoid swimming or water activities, avoid disturbing or stepping on offerings, avoid red and black clothing, the origin of the hungry ghost festival.


The origin of the Hungry Ghost Festival is rooted in Chinese folk beliefs and religious practices. The festival has a combination of Buddhist and Taoist elements, along with influences from traditional Chinese ancestor worship and animistic beliefs. The primary purpose of the festival is to honor and appease the spirits of deceased ancestors and wandering ghosts, ensuring that they find comfort and relief during this period.

The origins of the festival can be traced back to several sources:

The festival is thought to have been influenced by Buddhist teachings about karma and the cycle of birth and rebirth. In Buddhist beliefs, spirits may be trapped in a state of suffering due to negative karma from their past lives. The festival provides an opportunity for the living to offer food, prayers, and other offerings to help alleviate the suffering of these spirits.

Taoism also plays a significant role in the Hungry Ghost Festival. Taoist beliefs in the spirit world and the interaction between the living and the dead contribute to the customs of the festival. Taoist rituals and ceremonies are performed to seek protection from malevolent spirits and to honor deceased ancestors.

Ancestral Worship: Traditional Chinese culture places a strong emphasis on ancestor worship. During the festival, families pay homage to their deceased ancestors by offering food, incense, and other offerings at altars and gravesites. This practice is believed to strengthen the bond between the living and the dead and provide blessings for the living.

The festival is also linked to the idea of wandering spirits who may not have living descendants to care for them. These “hungry ghosts” are believed to have no family to perform rituals for them, making them more likely to cause trouble or misfortune if not appeased. The festival aims to address their needs and provide them with offerings and prayers.


From August 16 to September 14, 2023, a veil of mystery descends as “ The Ghost Month ” unfolds—a significant period in the Chinese lunar calendar, nestled within the embrace of the seventh lunar month. Typically gracing the month of August in the Gregorian calendar, it is a time when cultural beliefs converge with a sense of reverence.This month, aptly known as the “Ghost Month,” carries an air of both intrigue and caution. 

Ghost Month Open Day( August 16, 2023): All spirits leave the afterlife when the underworld’s gates open. While ghosts with masters go back to their residences, ghosts without masters wander the mortal realm aimlessly in search of food.

Ghost Month End Day (September 14, 2023): On this day, the gates of Hell once more close, sending the ghosts back to the afterlife.

You can also refer to our article to see more Taiwanese special festival .

The Traditional of the Hungry Ghost Festival


The Hungry Ghost Festival is rich in traditions and customs that vary based on regional practices, cultural interpretations, and religious influences. Here are some of the key traditions associated with the festival:

Families prepare altars or tables with gifts for their deceased ancestors, such as food, fruits, incense, and other goods. These offerings are intended to soothe and nourish the spirits. In addition, they burn joss paper, commonly known as “spirit money,” and other objects of symbolic meaning in the hope that their ancestors may gain from their transference to the spirit world.

Extensive feasts called “ghost dinners” are planned in order to respect and pacify the ghosts. These celebrations involve a range of foods that are thought to be liked by the spirits and are frequently conducted in temples or outdoors. The table has empty places so that the ghosts may eat with us.

As a sacrifice to the spirits, joss paper, which resembles money, is burned. It is thought that the smoke transports these offerings to the afterlife, where they bring solace and sustenance to the roving spirits and ancestors.

In some areas, puppet shows or traditional Chinese opera performances are put on as a kind of entertainment for both the living and the dead. The ghosts are thought to appreciate and welcome these performances as a sign of respect.

At the conclusion of the celebration, water and floating lanterns are discharged onto bodies of water to direct the souls back to the spirit world. This action represents the spirits’ safe departure and return to the afterlife.

In some areas, street processions are organized to honor the deities and spirits. These processions often feature elaborately decorated floats, performers, and worshippers dressed in traditional costumes.

Beyond the specific practices of the Hungry Ghost Festival, ancestor worship is a significant aspect. Families pay respects to their ancestors by visiting gravesites, cleaning and maintaining the burial grounds, and offering prayers and offerings throughout the year.

Five Taboos of Hungry Ghost Festival

Don't talk

During the Hungry Ghost Festival, there are certain taboos or guidelines that people traditionally follow to avoid attracting negative energy or causing harm. These taboos are rooted in the belief that the spirit world is particularly active during this time, and it’s important to show respect and avoid actions that might disturb the spirits. Here are five common taboos associated with the Hungry Ghost Festival:

It’s believed that wandering spirits are more active during the nighttime, and going out after dark might increase the chance of encountering these spirits. To minimize the risk of encountering spirits, people often avoid unnecessary outdoor activities at night.

It’s considered risky to engage in water-related activities during the seventh month of the lunar calendar. There’s a belief that water spirits are more potent and might try to drag people underwater during this time. This includes avoiding swimming, boating, or other water-based recreational activities.

Avoid Whistling or Calling Out Names: Making loud noises or whistling is believed to attract wandering spirits’ attention. It’s thought that calling out names may invite the spirits to attach themselves to the person calling. To avoid inadvertently summoning spirits, people refrain from making loud noises or using people’s names unnecessarily.

Families set up altars and offerings for their deceased ancestors and wandering spirits. It’s important not to disturb or disrespect these offerings, as it might upset the spirits or bring bad luck. This includes refraining from stepping on or walking over the offerings.

In Chinese culture, red and black are associated with funerals and mourning. During the Hungry Ghost Festival, people avoid wearing these colors to prevent drawing the attention of wandering spirits and to avoid offending the spirits that might be around.

It’s worth noting that these taboos might vary in different regions and among different communities. While some people strictly adhere to these guidelines, others might be more lenient in their observance. The taboos are rooted in cultural beliefs and practices that emphasize respect for the spirit world and maintaining harmony between the living and the deceased during this special time of the year.

In conclusion, the Hungry Ghost Festival stands as a captivating tapestry woven from the threads of ancient beliefs, cultural practices, and spiritual connections. As the gates to the spirit realm swing open, this poignant interlude casts a unique light on the delicate dance between the living and the departed. Rooted in a blend of Buddhist and Taoist influences, the festival carries within its rituals a deep reverence for ancestors and a compassionate acknowledgement of wandering spirits. With offerings, prayers, and performances, it bridges the chasm between realms, fostering a sense of harmony and remembrance. As each year’s festival unfolds, it offers a glimpse into a world where the mystical and the earthly unite, inviting us to honor the past, reflect on our place within the cosmos, and celebrate the profound mystery of life’s interconnectedness.

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