[cultures and traditions: Taiwan]
Eastern societies, unlike many western societies, traditionally try to appease the dead, rather than trying to banish them, by inviting them temporarily into the world of the living. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Taiwan during Ghost Month. On the first day of the seventh lunar month, 'Open Day' in hell is held, the gates to the underworld are opened and the spirits are allowed to cross over into the living world.
Not only do the Taiwanese accept these hauntings with admirable equanimity, they actually give their ethereal guests the full VIP 5-star treatment. At the Chung Yuan Festival (about halfway through the month), huge banquet tables are set out in temple courtyards and mountains of fish, vegetables, meat and other delicacies are offered as sacrifice; hanging lanterns are erected to guide the ghosts to the table; non-stop operas entertain during dinner and fake money is burnt so that guests have a bit of pocket-money to spend when they return to hell.
This hospitality is not entirely altruistic - it's insurance against paranormal acts of retribution.
Other do's and dont's to be observed during ghost month
include the following:
On the 30th day of the month, the gates of hell are closed
again and the ghosts return to the other side.