Anyway, you might be wondering what this has to do with Filipino culture. Well, since a good number of Filipinos have Chinese ancestry, many of them still celebrate traditions carried over from their — or their ancestors' — homeland. Even in this modern day and age, Filipino-Chinese still subscribe to superstitions that supposedly help them attract luck and ward off evil, such as the following.
- Offer Them "Happy Food." To appease the spirits, they should be given food that made them happy when they were alive (hence the name). These foods include roast pork, chicken, rice, candies and even cigarettes. The offerings should be made at least once a week for the duration of the Ghost Month.
- Offer Them Prayers. The way Chinese offer prayers is different from the way Westerners do. Aside from saying words under your breath, you also have to light two red candles as you do so. Wait for the candles to burn out completely, then burn "hell's money" next. (You can purchase "hell's money" in most Chinese stores.) Once both rituals are done, you may eat the food on the spirits' behalf.
- Be Careful When You Drive. Granted, being careful is a must for any time of the year, but ghosts will make you more accident-prone than usual.
- Celebrate Birthdays During Daytime. If you know someone born during the Ghost Month, make sure you schedule celebrations before dark. Otherwise, that someone may suffer the consequences of breaking this taboo.
- Deal With Injuries ASAP. Ghosts are attracted to these, so patch them up before you get home.
- Wear Amulets for Protection. Pretty self-explanatory. Be sure to ask a feng shui expert for amulets that are specially made for warding off spirits during Ghost Month.
- Hang Protective Charms Around Your House. Again, ask a feng shui expert for specific charms that work best during Ghost Month.
- Wear Red and Black. These colors attract spirits to you.
- Go Swimming. Drowned spirits might want to take you with them.
- Go Out Alone at Night. Ghosts will use this as an opportunity to play pranks on you.
- Get Married. Couples who get married during the Ghost Month end up separating.
- Whistle After Sunset. Ghosts are drawn to people who whistle, and will cause them bad luck for the rest of their lives.
- Pick Up Coins From the Street. Filipino-Chinese often throw coins on the street as offerings to the spirits. If you pick them up, spirits will think you're stealing from them, and cause misfortune to fall on you.
- Walk Close to Walls. It's said that ghosts like to stick to walls.
- Turn Your Head Around When Someone Pats Your Shoulder. No, this isn't because you might find a ghostly face staring back at you (though it's probably likely). It's because, by turning only your head, you might snuff out one of the three flames protecting your life force. So you either turn your entire body around, or you don't turn at all.
- Look Into a Mirror at Midnight. Mirrors have always been associated with the supernatural, and the Chinese are no exception. According to legend, if you look at a mirror during this time, you might accidentally "guide" spirits into your home.
- Open Umbrellas in the House. This will call the attention of spirits.
- Hang Clothes Outside at Night. Crafty spirits might wear these to sneak into your house.
- Take Selfies After Dark. You never know who might end up "photobombing" your pictures.
- Do Anything Major/Important. If you want to move into a new house, start a business or travel abroad, it's better to postpone it to a more auspicious month. Otherwise, what you started might end badly.
- For 2016, the Ghost Month lasts from August 3 to 31.
- Likewise, the Ghost Festival will be on August 17, where Taoists and Buddhists will perform rituals to help the dead be at peace.
- The Ghost Month is also commemorated in countries with significant Chinese populations/influence, such as Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and Japan.
So, did this list shoot a chill up your spine? Whether you're Chinese or not, it won't hurt to follow local traditions wherever you are. After all, no one has been able to definitely prove the existence (or non-existence) of spirits and monsters, so you'd do well to be safe rather than sorry.
Oh, and if you feel a presence behind you? You can turn around, or not…