Horror Fiction Inspiration: Hungry Ghost Festival

The gates of hell have opened. The dead now walk among us.

Don’t panic. Put away your holy water filled Nerf gun. Clean up the heaps of salt at the corners of your house. It’s a festival not an apocalyptic battle between good and evil. It’s when grandma, grandpa, friends and family who have passed on, come for a short visit.

According to the Chinese Lunar Calendar, spirits of the dead get a 30-day holiday to visit earth for food and a chance to check on loved ones. During this time the Chinese go the extra mile to fete them. Food is placed on altars or by the roadside. Joss sticks, hell money, paper TVs, computers, houses, servants and other offerings are burnt- making it a little smoky this time of the year. I have Taoist neighbours, so this is the time when I am extra careful when reversing or turning my car. Wouldn’t want to accidentally knock over someone’s great grandpa or grandma’s roast pork or steam cake. Stephen King style horror is best experienced through books and movies, not live!

The highlight of the ghost month, for me, is the free concerts specially held for the dead. Singers in glam outfits shimmy and shake across the stage, belting out the latest canto or mando pop songs. Accompanied by snazzy LED panel lighting and first class AV equipment, it reminds me of Coachella, except with a lot of invisible VVIPs making up a large part of the audience. Hint: they’re usually on the empty chairs right in front of the stage. Do not sit under any circumstances!

I’ll also be expecting check-ins from my grandparents – not in the form of pallid stringy haired ghosts from the Six Sense, but in the form of insects such as moths, grasshoppers or butterflies. So insect cruelty is not acceptable during this month. I googled cockroaches and ants just to make sure, but they are considered household pests, so I guess that’s fine.

The older folks would warn us to come home before sunset. Apparently, ghosts are the strongest at night because the ‘yin’ energy from the moon strengthens them while the ‘yang’ energy of the sun has the opposite effect. But I doubt if that’s a viable excuse to escape from the necessary all-nighter needed to meet deadlines. We are suppose to be rational, modern people, right?

Check out more dos and don’ts that apply during the Ghost month at Says online portal or the youtube video below.

Hopefully, you’ll get great ideas on creating a unique angle for your upcoming horror fiction debut.

Stay safe and be inspired!

39 thoughts on “Horror Fiction Inspiration: Hungry Ghost Festival

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