HK Magazine Archive

How to Survive the Hungry Ghost Festival

Halloween might be two months away, but the way scarier Hungry Ghost Festival is upon us!

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 August, 2016, 7:00pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 October, 2016, 5:21pm


The doors of the underworld are open and malevolent spirits are wandering the city. If you find yourself out late, keep the following tips in mind.

1) Don’t whistle!
You might be satisfied that you got all your work done for the day, but on no account whistle when you’re leaving the office—whistling is a signal that gathers spirits. If you break this rule, they’ll follow you all the way back home. You should also avoid talking to yourself, as ghosts might think you are inviting them to talk.

Read more: Know Your Ghosts

2) Don’t pick up coins!
If you see a coin on the ground, under no circumstances pick it up. Any dropped coins belong to the two guards of the underworld, “Cow Head” and “Horse Face”—these are the two entities that spirits need to bribe in order to enter the mortal realm.

3) Don’t react to bizarre sounds or smells!
Curiosity killed the cat: Ignore any peculiar noises or weird odors. Furthermore, if you hear someone calling you from behind, do not, whatever you do, turn around and answer.

4) Don’t take photos!
It is believed that cameras can capture spirits. Taking a photo (especially a selfie) might not be a good idea tonight. If you do, look closely at the picture—you may discover an unwelcome visitor in the frame with you.

Read more: Tell Me More About Chinese Ghosts!

5) Don’t walk near walls!
If you have to pass down narrow streets on your way home, stay away from the walls: spirits can inhabit them. Stay away from quiet paths too, as ghosts like to target those who are alone.

6) Don’t stand under trees!
Getting a taxi at night can be difficult, but whatever you do, don’t wait for transportation under a tree—spirits love these areas.

Read More: Don’t Give These 10 Things to Your Chinese Family

7) Don’t pick someone up!
You go out for a late drink, meet someone and hit it off—and then they suggest heading back to your place. Any other time of the year we'd be all for it... but do you REALLY know who you're taking home?

So take care out there. If you pay heed and follow our advice, we’re pretty confident you’ll survive the month. Probably...