The Chinese language makes a clear distinction between “ancestor’s spirits” & “ghosts”. Ancestors are known as “jo sin” or the “former holy founders”. They, jo sin are the guardian spirits who protects and blesses the earthly family. But ghosts are “kwi” – the spirits or ghosts, they are the evil spirits who if not satisfied can cause a lot of damage to people. There are a great numbers of ghosts: some were unlucky enough to have all descendants die out, some died without children, some have been unable to reach the world of the dead since they had no proper funeral, yet others are unable to get food, paper clothing & even spirit money even though they have descendants. These are the deprived dead. Unsatisfied, they are “dangerous” and therefore needs to be appeased.
For the people on earth, the Seventh Moon is a especially worrying time. This is when the gates of the underworld are opened & ghosts are free to roam whenever & wherever they like. These ghosts need offerings of the same gifts that are given to ancestors & gods in other times. They also demand that they be entertained with several nights & days of opera.
Siu Yee: “Burning Clothes”
Families offer their individual offerings and small clubs, associations, surname clubs also make their offerings to the ghosts. Many of the families get out on the streets at night (the time and the place where the ghosts are more likely to be on the prowl) and they burn suits of paper clothes and fake paper money. They put up a tray with the usual goodies for the Gods fruits, food and sweets. After the Gods have had their fill, then comes the part that the children love best. Coins (the real stuff, not the fake paper ones); fruits and sweets are thrown into the air as symbolic of the offering to the ghosts and children have to scramble for the goodies. After the ceremony and prayers are over, there is usually a special family dinner. The associations and clubs and surname groups have a banquet together. This is the second occasion for such a banquet, the first being the “grave tending festival” of Ching Ming in the third moon.