Celebrated on the 15th day of the 7th Lunar Month in the Chinese calendar, the Hungry Ghost Festival is an important day for the Chinese, after the Chinese New Year. Throughout the whole month, it is believed that the gates of Hell are opened and the spirits of the dead are free to roam the earth. The dead would visit their living relatives during this month; prayers would be held and a sumptuous meal would be prepared by the living for their dead ancestors. At the same time, foodstuff such as fruits and white rice would be left outside their homes to 'feed' homeless spirits who have nowhere to return to, thus avoiding them from causing trouble to the living. During this month, the Chinese would also avoid swimming or staying out late at night, so as not to be disturbed by the wandering spirits.
On the Ghost Day, which is the 15th of the month, aside from food and prayers, paper offerings are also made to the dead. Paper replicas of money (called 'Hell Money'), houses, cars, and all sorts of modern comforts such as mobile phones and television sets, are burnt for the spirits. The Chinese believe that these paper offerings would reach the spirits and help them live more comfortably in the afterlife. They take great care in performing these rituals as they believe that unappeased spirits would wreak havoc on the living, especially those who had wronged them, and well-served spirits would help bring in good fortune and ward off bad luck.