Arts & Culture

What is 'Ghost Month' and Why Do People Consider It Unlucky?

Do you believe in it?

Photography: Shutterstock


You've probably heard of it one way on another, August is an unlucky time of the year because it's Ghost Month. It's the time when people are advised to hold off new business ventures and relationships become tricky.

To show how influential the belief is, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion recently said business leaders agreed to an August lockdown since it's Ghost Month and generally a "weak" month for trade contrary to the booming sales during Christmas.

Ghost Month, according to feng shui master Patrick Lim Fernandez, is the time of the year when the souls of the dead are believed to be released from the underworld to roam around the earth, and feed and drink.

"There are several cultures around the world that has this belief, that spirits come back to the Earth for a certain amount of time and that's usually what Ghost Month is for the Chinese," Fernandez told reportr.


Like many beliefs, Ghost Month is a concept that is mirrored in other cultures. If the Filipinos have Undas, the Mexicans have Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), and Westerners have Halloween, the Chinese have Ghost Month.

"This is usually the seventh month in the lunar calendar so in the Western calendar it's usually the month of August," Fernandez said. "Regardless of culture, regardless of date, there is this concept that we recognize, honor spirits that come back. It's a matter of recognizing that it's out there."

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For 2021, Ghost month begins on Aug. 8 and lasts until Sept. 6, he said. The "focal point" for this year's Ghost month is Aug. 22, the Hungry Ghost Festival.

Why is it considered unlucky?

It's in the translation, Fernandez said. The English word "ghost" insinuates something negative which is why Ghost Month is linked to bad luck, Fernandez said, noting that the more accurate translation is "spirit."


"I think it's really in the translation. When you say the word 'ghost' in English, it's like a specter, a malevolent spirit so it's really the connotation behind the word 'ghost'," he said.

On a cultural aspect, there's also the balance between Yin and Yang during Ghost Month that is of concern for the Chinese.

Yin, which is usually associated with the non-living and the dead, is believed to be stronger than Yang, which is associated with life and energy during Ghost Month. During this time, Yin is believed to be the dominant chi or life energy, attracting wandering spirits, Fernandez said.

"It's like our immune system, if our chi goes down there are more chances of attracting these wandering spirits," he said.

What are the do's and don'ts?

Generally, Ghost Month is a good time to be conservative and avoid obstructions in one's plans and ventures according to Fernandez.


Here are some of the do's and don'ts according to the feng shui master:

1. Avoid starting any new undertaking.

2. On the work and business aspect: avoid moving into new offices, getting a new job, or starting a new business.

3. On the home front: avoid moving houses, buying houses, groundbreaking and starting construction.

4. On relationships and commitments: avoid getting married, and signing contracts.

5. On health: if possible, avoid getting surgery during this time.

6. Avoid staying out late at night especially for pregnant women, children, and the elderly who have less chi.

7. Avoid swimming and other water-related activities since these are usually associated with Yin forces.

8. Increase the Yang energy with bright lights for warmth.

9. Avoid making noise late at night to avoid attracting spirits and bothering your neighbors.

10. Avoid dark-colored clothing since it is believed to be associated with Yin energy.


And whether one believes in Ghost Month or not, there is that universal call for respect of cultural differences.

"We don't disrespect other people just because they don't share the same world view as us. It's all about understanding our differences and knowing that a worldview that we don't share is not necessarily wrong, it's just different," he said

This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.


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