In the Chinese culture, the seventh lunar month, which begins on Wednesday, is believed to be a period when spirits stuck between the living and the dead can make their presence felt.
Traditionally, it is said that these entities' precarious position renders them unable to eat and thus they are known as 'hungry ghosts.'
However for the four week period known as 'Hungry Ghost Month,' the spirits are purportedly free to roam the Earth in search of sustenance.
While it is considered a good deed to burn money or leave food out for these ghosts during the month, there are also quite a few incredibly specific superstitions surrounding the spirits as well.
For instance, it is said that whistling after sunset is a surefire way to attract wayward ghosts that will subsequently stalk you throughout the month.
Additionally, Chinese culture cautions against having an open umbrella indoors, since the spirits purportedly take shelter under them and, thus, can sneak into the home if one is not careful.
Major life changes are also to be avoided as moving to a new home, getting married, and going on vacation are all believed to be acts which upset the spirit world during the month.
In many parts of China and Hong Kong the period is commemorated with massive festivals on the 15th day of the month that feature performances and ceremonies designed to honor and appease the 'hungry ghosts.'
While the entire idea may seem rather silly to Americans learning about the custom, it's not too far off from our own traditions of dressing up in costume on Halloween in search of candy.
When one looks at it that way, it suggests that perhaps there may be a deeper cultural connection surrounding the idea of 'hungry ghosts.'