The Hungry Ghost Festival, a.k.a. the “ghost month” or 7th month in the Chinese calendar is here.
Get ready for the smell of burning joss paper, scantily-clad getai singers and… huge discounts?! That’s right – if you’re not the superstitious type, the 7th month is actually the cheapest time to get married.
Your parents may not approve, but the fact is that you can save a lot of money by getting married and renovating your new home during the Hungry Ghost Festival (1 to 29 Aug 2019).
During this period, wedding banquet prices are cheaper, and renovation companies and property agents are desperate for your business. Even flights for your honeymoon are more affordable. Read on for the details:
#1 Wedding packages are usually cheaper
In general, August and September (when the ghost month usually is) is considered an inauspicious for the Chinese. It’s when the hell gates open for restless ghosts to “visit” our world. Weddings are an auspicious event, and during this celebration, couples should reduce contact with “dirty things”.
As such, many Chinese couples tend to avoid not just the actual Chinese 7th month, but the dates near it too. This means less business for hotels and restaurants that hold wedding banquets.
During this period, banquet package prices may also be cheaper. If not, you can probably bargain for more freebies like extra rooms or more alcohol. Here’s a handy wedding banquet price guide which includes tips on how to save more on your banquet.
#2 More banquet dates are available
Many Singaporean couples know that booking a wedding banquet at short notice is virtually impossible. The exception is the 7th month, when most Chinese couples avoid getting hitched.. (Also read: Auspicious wedding dates in 2019)
So if you’re not superstitious, you’ll most likely be able to get your preferred date during this period. For instance, 9 September would make a nice anniversary date, but it probably won’t be booked out this year because it’s during the Hungry Ghost Festival.
#3 Property prices are likely to be lower
If you’re shopping for a new home, the ghost month is a great one as many pantang Chinese buyers avoid buying a home during this season. According to the belief, it’s unlucky to purchase homes during this inauspicious festival too.
If the previous years’ data is anything to go by, you can expect property prices to drop. There was a dip in the number of transactions, and the homes bought during the Hungry Ghost Festival were sold at cheaper prices. In 2016, private home sales was halved in August. The same thing happened in September 2017.
If you’re indeed hoping to snag a good deal in the upcoming months, make sure you get up to speed on the latest property cooling measures first.
#4 Renovation/ID firms are desperate for business
Photo: Naomi Hébert on Unsplash/123rf.com
Property agents aren’t the only ones hit by pantang consumers during the 7th month. Renovation businesses and interior design firms are similarly hit.
The superstition is that the noisy works will disturb the restless spirits that are roaming about. It’s believed to be bad luck for the homeowners, which is why many people avoid renovation works during these months.
That makes it an ideal time to renovate! Those who’ve recently collected their keys and are hunting for a contractor or interior design firm to spruce up their homes can strike while this spooky iron is hot.
You may think that most renovation businesses are owned by superstitious uncles. That’s probably true, but they still need to put food on the table. August and September are particularly dry months for them because of the ghost month, so if you’re negotiating for works to be done in those months, you’re likely to get a better-than-usual deal.
So make sure to bargain (or “manja” them, whichever your preferred tactic) for more discounts.
#5 Bonus: flights are usually cheaper too
Alright, so this one doesn’t have much to do with superstition. August and September just happen to be relatively off-peak travel months in Singapore, probably since it’s mugging season for the upcoming exams.
The Hungry Ghost Festival tradition is to avoid water in all forms – hence things like cruises, boat trips and even swimming. Superstitious Chinese people believe that spirits hang around in the water, just waiting to terrorise unsuspecting mortals. (Apparently vengeful ghosts who drowned to death will try to do the same to you.)
But the pantang rule book says nothing of air travel, so go ahead and book that cheap flight for your honeymoon.
This article was originally published in MoneySmart.