Spirit Festival

The Spirit Festival is a traditional Buddhist and Taoist festival that’s observed in China and other East Asian countries. It’s observed on the 15th night of the seventh month on the Chinese Lunisolar Calendar, which places it most of the time during August on the Gregorian Calendar, although some years it falls in September on this calendar.

This holiday is observed during Ghost Month and is also known as the Zhongyuan Festival. It’s a holiday on which the wrath of the ghosts of a person’s ancestors is avoided by performing certain rituals. This ritual absolves and transmutes the suffering of the dead so they won’t seek vengeance on the living.

The History Of The Spirit Festival In China

Modern Spirit Festival Celebrations originate with ancient Taoist rituals that started during the Tang Dynasty that’s been fused with Buddhist traditions that originated from Ancient India. According to Taoism, the gates of hell open up on the first day of the seventh month of the year, and it’s this time when hungry ghosts are released to not only find food but also to take revenge on those who have acted badly throughout the year.

Observing The Spirit Festival In China

Because there’s a tradition of putting out plates of food to feed the “hungry” dead, this holiday is sometimes known as the Hungry Ghost Festival. This holiday falls on the same day as the new season, the fall harvest, and the full month. During Ghost Month, hungry ghosts are released from hell and these ghosts have needle necks that make it hard for them to eat. Their suffering can only be eased by their relatives leaving food out for them to eat.

Another common tradition is for people to burn paper effigies of the things that their ancestors might need in the land of the dead. This includes “Hell Notes,” a form of currency for the dead, and paper cars, servants, and even televisions. Of course, there are also a variety of Buddhists and Taoist religious ceremonies that are performed on this day, and all through Ghost Month.

Where is it celebrated?
China (Observance)
When is it?
This year (2023)
August 30 Wednesday
Next year (2024)
August 18 Sunday
Last year (2022)
August 12 Friday