Do you believe in ghosts?

Sometimes, I think that the fear of ghosts (and the belief in the afterlife) is based on culture and upbringing. For instance, in Hawaii, in addition to their languages and food, the immigrants who came to Hawaii also brought their monsters. Tales of spirits are often told — from stories of the Night Marchers (Ghosts of Ancient Hawaiian Warriors) to the Japanese faceless woman who washes her face in the bathroom.

I studied a lot about ghosts and spirits and have formed a few conclusions: 1) by understanding a culture’s monsters, you can understand the culture’s fears and hopes and 2) every culture has monsters, maybe not spirits, but definitely monsters.

In Hawaii, ancestor worship by Chinese immigrants is a tradition that is upheld and can be seen in the Chinese graveyards. I remember tending one day every year, tending to family grave sites with Chinese Bai San with my mom’s side of the family. During Bai San, my great aunt would prepare “money” which we would burn so our ancestors would have money in the afterlife.  We would then set out food and burn incense. Before we could enter our homes after the graveyard, we would have to jump over a fire so the ghosts wouldn’t follow us home.

I’m not going to tell my daughter anything about ghost or spirits. I’d like her to draw her own conclusions about the subject, but I don’t want her to miss out on our culture. So, instead of scaring her with the spirits, I’ll talk with her in terms of learning more about her cultures.

So, what do you think, do you believe in ghosts? What is your experience? Is your belief cultural?

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