Guest blogger: Melissa (Matt is on vacation. Really he just couldn't think of anything to write)
A few weeks back I joined a group called The American Women's Assoc.; it's a group of women who get together to do all sorts of things (play tennis, bridge, golf, sew, have coffee, scrapbook etc.). One of the things they offer are tours of Singapore neighborhoods. I decided to sign up for the Chinatown tour, mainly to fill my time while Jack is in school. We walked around for three hours with a well informed tour guide, learning many things about medicine shops, Singapore in the 40's, local foods, and some Chinese celebrations. My favorite celebration is The Hungry Ghosts Festival. It's my favorite for two reasons, one because it just passed so I got to see it first hand and two because it's just so crazy. It's a fairly simple holiday. The gist is that the Chinese believe that for 30 days the gates of Heaven and Hell are open and the deceased come back to earth. Why they come back I'm not too sure. If you are among the living you are expected to offer gifts to your dead relatives in the form of paper money. You burn this paper money in red kettle drums and light incense. While on this tour we went into a shop where they sell this paper money, along with paper Coach purses, paper, designer shoes, and paper credit cards . They even had paper passports, in case your relatives in hell want to get to Heaven faster???? The hungry ghosts are the ones that died without family so you offer them oranges, therefore they stay away from the paper money that is meant for only your close family. No, you don't burn the oranges; you place them on the side of the road. Any given day you could open our balcony door and see people burning paper money, placing oranges on the ground and lighting mass amounts of incense on the side of the road.
Oh and one more thing, in case you are interested in celebrating The Hungry Ghosts Festival yourself there is different money for Heaven and Hell. So make a list of dead relatives, figure out where the might be and if they will need a passport.