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7 Ways To Avoid the Hungry Ghosts

By Sophie Pettit 16 August 2016
The doors of hell have been flung wide open and restless souls are wandering the earth - that's right, the Hungry Ghost Festival is once again upon us. But before you freak out at the idea of spending your evening in the company of ghastly ghouls, we want to reassure you that this traditional Chinese festival is actually grounded in love - aaaaaw! These poor, restless souls are in fact wandering because they didn't receive a proper burial, or passed away far from home. Sweet as that is, we're still not so keen on a spooky visitor swooping into our homes at night, so we decided to help warn you about the major no-nos of the spookiest festival of the year. Take note people ...

1. DON'T open your umbrella indoors

Normally, opening umbrellas wouldn't be an issue during the height of summer, but alas Hong Kong is in the midst of a never-ending downpour. Resist the urge to pop open your brolly before you're well and truly outside, as a sneaky ghost may be hiding inside - eek! This also rules out drying off your umbrella overnight.

2. DON'T hang your clothes outside at night

Ghosts with a soft spot for fashion may bypass your brolly in favour of your freshly washed smalls. It's not because they're trying to nick your knickers, they just want to get inside them and find a sneaky way into your home when you retrieve your laundry. Save that washing for a another day?

3. DON'T go for a late night stroll (particularly near water)

If you're looking for a romantic way to pass the time, rule out late night dips and moonlit walks along the harbour immediately. The hungry ghosts are at their most powerful under the light of the moon, so try to get home before sunset if possible. Remember to avoid large expanses of water too, as ghosts who drowned in their past life may try to lure you under the surface should they spy you in the water.

4. DON'T pick up anything found on the street

Tempting though it may be to pocket a rogue dollar - resist. You may accidentally offend a loitering ghost in the process by pocketing a sacrifice intended for them, and we know that spells trouble. Is pocket change really worth suffering the wrath of a restless soul? We think not. Keep walking ...

5. DON'T stand near walls

Somewhat difficult in a city where miniature living spaces are the norm. Just do your best on this one and gravitate towards the middle of the room to distance yourself from any ghosts that have crept in - they're more likely to stick close to the walls to prevent exposing themselves.

6. DON'T wear high heels

Sorry ladies, heels are out! Those who have their heels raised off the floor for prolonged amounts of time are thought to welcome spirits up from the underworld, so ditch the stilettos chicas, it's flats all the way during Hungry Ghost Festival.

7. DON'T sing, whistle, or talk to yourself

If you do, nearby ghoullies may mistake your one man show for an invitation to join you. Looking for an on-stage partner? Well, ramp up the volume. We can already hear the theme tune to Ghostbusters blaring out.
The Hungry Ghost Festival celebrations are ongoing, with Cantonese opera performances popping up across the city over the next couple of weekends. You'll also spy traditional sacrifices outside homes and in public spaces, including incense, rice, and tasty food. Keep an eye out!
Read more! Find out what other public holidays and festivals are coming your way.

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Sophie Pettit


Sophie is always on the lookout for a great story and her next big adventure and loves nothing more than discovering the city’s hidden gems—and most delicious cocktails. When she’s not exploring new places, she’s off travelling and ticking countries off her bucket list.