Categories > Guides and Tips
- What is the Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong?
- When is the Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong?
- What are the typical offerings during the Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong?
- What are the other names for the Hungry Ghost Festival?
- What should I keep in mind during the Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong?
- Don’t mess with the offerings
- Don’t make important life decisions at this time
- Go home early
- Stay away from water
- Avoid taking photos at night
- What should I do during the Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong?
- Attend a traditional Hungry Ghost Festival
- Go to the three-day carnival
- Where can I watch Hungry Ghost Festival events in Hong Kong?
- Is the Hungry Ghost Festival a public holiday in Hong Kong?
The Hungry Ghost Festival is one of the most fascinating events in Hong Kong’s cultural calendar. During this time, the city is more alive than ever with decorations, rituals, and offerings.
But if you’re new here, you might be thinking: what exactly is all this for?!
Well, we’ll show you. In this article, we’ll explore the Hungry Ghost Festival and talk about what it’s about, how we Hongkongers celebrate it, and what people should keep in mind if participating.
What is the Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong?
In Chinese culture, the Hungry Ghost Festival is when people give tribute to the departed by praying and providing them offerings.
Held on the 15th night of the Chinese calendar’s 7th month – the month when the gates of hell open – the festival is also about placating the ghosts who roam the world at this time.
To avoid them doing mischievous things that could affect the living, offerings are made during this time. The tradition is most popular in East Asian countries where traditional Taoism and Buddishm are practiced.
When is the Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong?
The Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong is always on the 15th night of the Chinese calendar’s 7th month. In 2023, this falls on August 30, Wednesday.
What are the typical offerings during the Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong?
The typical offerings during the Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong are incense and food.
While there are usually different customs depending on the place you’re in, there are also common themes.
For example, people who observe this holiday typically do ritual venerations for the departed. Moreover, most of them offer food like peanuts, raw noodles, fruits, wine, and tea.
What are the other names for the Hungry Ghost Festival?
The Hungry Ghost Festival is also called the Yulan Festival (盂蘭節) or Zhongyuan Festival (中元節).
What should I keep in mind during the Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong?
There are several things to keep in mind during the Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong. If you want to participate in this event, keep the following in mind:
1. Don’t mess with the offerings
As we mentioned, people usually give offerings to the departed during the Hungry Ghost Festival. As a sign of respect, you shouldn’t meddle with an offering laid out on an altar.
This means you shouldn’t step on it, touch it, kick it, or even say offensive remarks in front of it. If you do, they say it’s possible that the spirit would feel insulted and might even attach itself to you.
What if you accidentally disrespect it, though? Fortunately, you can always apologize afterward.
2. Don’t make important life decisions at this time
Another superstition during this month is to avoid making important decisions. This includes getting married, starting a new business, and the like.
The reason behind this is that decisions made this month eventually lead to a disaster because ghost month is considered unlucky. Your marriage might not last long and your business might fail, for example.
3. Go home early
Yes, the ghost month also has something like a curfew if you practice it. It’s best not to stay out too late because this is when spirits are at their strongest.
After all, this is the month when they’re free to roam the world of the living. At night, they say that the most likely victims are pregnant women and children.
4. Stay away from water
Thankfully, this doesn’t mean don’t bathe. This means avoiding water-related activities like swimming, kayaking, etc.
During ghost month, malefic spirits are said to hang around bodies of water in hopes of finding an unsuspecting victim. Wanting to be reincarnated, they would take over the body of their victim by trying to drown them.
Oh, and in case it even needs to be said, try to avoid traveling by sea during this month.
5. Avoid taking photos at night
If you take photos at night during ghost month, you might capture something your naked eye can’t see! If you’ve watched the movie Shutter or played the game Fatal Frame, you know that it’s not fun.
Not only will ghosts appear in your photos, you might also accidentally trap them in your phone.
You wouldn’t want a ghost to go wherever you go, right? It’s better to just take photos when there’s light out the next day if you don’t want to be haunted by a spirit.
What should I do during the Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong?
There are various things happening left and right during the Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong! Here are our top recommendations if you really want to get the flavor of this occasion:
1. Attend a traditional Hungry Ghost Festival
Please embed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaUMFOjFnHk
For the ultimate Hungry Ghost Festival experience, it’s important to attend a customary Yu Lan Festival. This is especially recommended if it’s your first time participating in the Hungry Ghost Festival because it’s one of the more authentic experiences.
Anyway, in Hong Kong, locals of Chiu Chow orchestrate the festival in different areas of the city. The activities usually consist of Chiu Chow operas, chanting sutras, and other festivities.
2. Go to the three-day carnival
In various neighborhoods in Hong Kong, there are usually three-day carnivals during the Hungry Ghost Festival. Some even happen for more than three days.
Sometimes, the activities are slightly different. But usually, day 1 is when they do rituals to invite the spirits to take part in the festivities.
We know it sounds scary, but trust us – it’s totally harmless!
There are also opera performances, games, and the like. Another ritual is done on day 2, but the purpose is entirely different.
You see, the second one is done to ask for blessings from the spirits. Day 3 starts with another ritual to cap off the experience and ends with a feast at night.
Where can I watch Hungry Ghost Festival events in Hong Kong?
You can usually watch the Hungry Ghost Festival events in Hong Kong at Victoria Park. If you want to watch Chinese opera and see the temple rituals, you can head to Chai Wan, Yuen Da Temple, and San Ha St.
Is the Hungry Ghost Festival a public holiday in Hong Kong?
No, the Hungry Ghost Festival is not a public holiday in Hong Kong. That’s why during this day, businesses will resume as any other day.