Now that August is almost over, many businesses in the Philippines can breathe a sigh of relief: Ghost Month is almost over.
Ghost Month is the Chinese nickname for the 7th month of the Chinese lunar calendar. In Chinese folklore during the first day of the month, the gates of hell open, releasing ghosts who freely roam about on earth searching for sustenance and something to be angry about. On the 15th day, the gates are fully open and the Chinese celebrate the Hungry Ghost Festival. Fortunately, the gates close at the end of the month and things return to normal.
But until that time, many Chinese and Chinese-Filipinos across the country believe that it’s best to get on the ghost’s good side. There are many ways of going about this. They burn paper money during the first and last day of the month to bribe the spirits away. They light incense and offer sacrificial food to appease feed the hungry ghosts. And they avoid making large purchases, business decisions, and long trips to avoid accidents caused by a wronged or malicious ancestor.
The last proscription is what makes businessmen nervous. There are two million Filipinos with pure Chinese ancestry and almost 30 million have Chinese blood. Many of them are entrepreneurs, business owners, and executives of some of the largest companies in the country. When Ghost Month arrives, these businesses simply don’t invest or release money easily. The effect can be felt in widely different industries.
While Chinese-Filipinos take a break from major business decisions to avoid accidents from hungry ghosts, it might be a good time to schedule a break away from the daily grind.