Random Cultural Observation #1: Ghost Month

Part of the joy of coming home from a vacation is squishing in between family members on the sofa while retelling your adventures. Naturally the presentation includes photos and lots of interesting stories (typically exaggerated for more of a reaction). Then the family acts interested, asks a few questions, and eventually gets bored. But today I had the sad realization that there isn't going to be a need for a sofa squishing gathering in a few weeks. I have pretty much covered everything right here, and what I haven't mentioned, I plan to in my Random Cultural Observances posts (starting right now).

That being said--Random Cultural Observance #1: Ghost Month.

-          The Seventh month is regarded as Ghost Month by Chinese Buddhists. It is believed to be the month when deceased ancestors freely roam the earth. Seeing that it’s July, worship is on the rise. In front of many business will be a tiny burn barrel ablaze with fake money. The concept behind burning money is to provide the dead with purchasing power. If they take counterfeit currency in the afterlife--I'm there and my posterity better provide. I'm normally very supportive of diverse cultural traditions but I happen to be very bad on a bike and have nearly plowed over a handful of fire spitting barrels. When I do manage to wobble around one, I usually get a face full of hot, flaky ash or choking smoke. 

Aside from providing their ancestors with money, the diligent Buddhist will prepare meals to be set before a shrine. It’s not unusual to enter a business and have your eye caught by a red-lit encasement (usually made from carved wood). Within the shrine will be figurines of gods and a bowl holding vertically placed incense. 

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