Silly superstitions polluting the environment

Should the practice of burning money be banned within city limits?

  • Yes
  • No

0 voters

You don’t want to breathe the air outside today - too much smoke. Ash flying everywhere, and the branches of a few beautiful shade trees on my company’s street were singed beyond recovery. What a dirty, senseless, silly superstition! :imp:

I think religious traditions are lovely, but the fact is, most of the people that I ask say they do not attach any particular significance to the act of burning money. They don’t believe that it makes them better people, or that their immortal souls will be in danger if they don’t burn money. The amount of money burned (stacks and stacks of it) seems to have more to do with a psychological need to alter the environment than fulfilling any religious mandate. Why can’t they just burn a (fake) check? Or one of those credit card lookalike inserts they put into new wallets?

Honestly, it was cute and exotic when I first got here in the 80’s, but now that I no longer consider myself a visitor, but a resident, I find I’ve changed my mind. I understand that in China it is banned to burn money in the cities - initially because the communists didn’t want to support silly feudal superstitions, and then because the population density was just too great. Maybe we could take a page from China’s book in this case and ban money burning within city limits. It’s completely inconsiderate of other people to pollute on such a massive scale. I just drove a short distance on my scooter and my eyes are stinging from the dirty air. Stupid! :x

I’d hate to be the one remembered for banning a tradition. Why stop there anyway, how about the firecrackers? One hit me about 1cm above my eye earlier this year. I’d be banning them first!

If I understood it correctly, they burn the money not for themselves but their deceased family or friend. Not commiting to this ritual, would brand oneself as being ungrateful, which is a big deal here.

The communist did outlaw it because they are godless, atheist pigs. But people still do it there, only out of sight.

A few key days a year where people burn paper…Jezus! How friggen sensitive are you? The interesting cultural doo-dads that people do here are what makes this place facinating.
Pollute? Seriously dudes, a bit of smoke from a wood product on occassion is nothing compared to the noxiousness coming from vehicles…and ever look at the Tamsui or Keelung rivers up close?

I guess I would be less critical if the people polluting the environment like this truly believed in their own traditions. Instead, most of them just shuffle through the motions, with no understanding as to what they’re doing or why, except for the weak protest “But we’re Chinese”, which is a pretty lame excuse.
Now when it comes to lapsed Catholics or non-practising Jews, I don’t really have an opinion one way or the other, since they aren’t coating my lungs with tar. But if Chinese want to continue a superstitious habit that they only believe in halfheartedly, and doesn’t even have a basis in religion, I wish they could switch to something that doesn’t make my eyes tear and my white shirts turn grey.

BTW Crackpot, I also think two stroke bikes should be banned from the roads, and in a perfect world there would be no waste pumped into the Danshui or Jilong rivers. These are probably higher on the priority list, but the Ghost Month gripe is more timely. One battle at a time… :wink:

I agree. If they were still burning REAL money, it would be a tradition worth preserving. But fake paper money? What happens when the Chinese figure out the paper actally has some intrinsic value too?
Maybe they’ll just talk about how “we burned fake money in the old days” and that will be enough to keep their ancestors in consumer luxuries in the afterlife.

Internal combustion engines pollute all-year 'round. Why not push for their elimination every day?
Do you really want to ban burning spirit fed? Really? Yeah, it’s smoky, but part of the fabric of life here.
Banning fireworks? Go to Hong Kong and tell me how in tune with the culture it feels to hear the sound of firecrackers broadcast over load speakers. It’s like trying to celebrate with “near-beer.” Or going to the Taj and being told that you can only look at a picture of it.
I agree that the issue of pollution is a serious one, particularly that of the water, but burning spirit fed? What next? Outlawing divination blocks because we want to save some trees? No more smoky, polluting incense? No more street parties (take up valuable roadway)? No more tzungtze (a waste of perfectly good bamboo leaves)?

I saw a wee ghost last night as I was climbing up to see my resident buddha, but that’s beside the point…

If the Taiwanese stop believing any tradition anytime soon, won’t it be a sort of “cultural revolution” for them?

I think it’s one of the coolest things about living in Taiwan, although I don’t like money-smoke, and btw, i have a story to tell you in a moment.

But, how many of you waiguoren live on the 4th floor…? Who sort of believes in the “four” thing?
Who of you follow the elements of feng shui, to some degree (mirror at end of bed, don’t sleep under a beam, etc)?
Who drinks hot water most of the time?
Who won’t put their chopsticks sticking up out a rice bowl?

We must respect the traditions of the people who allow us to call their country home.

The story I promised:
Last year, there was a ghost money burning on this little alley behind Shida Rd, or Yunho St. I was sitting in a coffee shop next to a window (it was autumn), and the wind was blowing such that the friggin’ smoke was billowing inside the cafe. Well, the waitress came over and closed the window, which made the air sort of close in the cafe. After the smoke died down, I reached over to open the window again and the whole thing, in slow motion, fell out onto Yunho St ! :unamused:
It was grandiose and spectacular, but luckily noone was passing by at the time.

The lao ban tried to get me to pay for it! Please. I barely touched the damn thing, I mean, it wasn’t like I was yanking on it! And the waitress had never warned me either.
So, I never went back there again. It was too humiliating, and it happened all because those schmoz were burning stacks of that gold leaf paper!

On the other hand my girlfriend would never burn spirit money either, because she is a Christian.

I have the impression that people who think this paper burning is not a big source of pollution are those who live in the more enlightened places like the areas around universities. I live in the old part of town and I can tell you the smoke is rather thick cough, cough. Also, the seedier the establishment, the bigger a money burner they have and the more smoke they produce. You should go to the area around Linsen North Road and see the gaggles of skimpily attired girls burning tons of the stuff at the behest of their employers. Yeah, ban it, I say!

[quote=“CRACKPOT”]Internal combustion engines pollute all-year 'round. Why not push for their elimination every day?
Do you really want to ban burning spirit fed? Really? Yeah, it’s smoky, but part of the fabric of life here.[/quote]
There are solid reasons to use internal combustion engines. Also, I would wager that most people believe in their existence, and acknowledge that the internal combustion engine affects their life in real ways, both positive and negative. The burning of money is a crock of shit. It’s another lucky rabbit’s foot hoisted upon an unquestioning public, willing to do anything to change their “luck”.
Just because something is part of the fabric of life, doesn’t mean it’s indispensable or has some sort of value. Headhunting was also once part of the fabric of life on this island, as was poor farmers selling their daughters to brothels.

This number 4 business is also laughable. How terribly ethnocentric to assume that just because in your dialect the words “four” and "death’ are homonyms, that means the number is universally unlucky.

Mirrors across from the bed? Why not? You’ll see better if they’re on the ceiling, though! :wink: Not safe in an earthquake, however sleeping under a beam surely is.

Hot water? Only when there’s no cold water.

Chopsticks sticking out of a rice bowl? I wouldn’t, but only out of good manners, just as I do not leave my cutlery in my food.

Go swimming in Ghost Month? There’s not even a pool in this country deep enough to drown in.

Whistle in the dark? Why not?

Screw the ghosts. Sure, we have our superstitions in the west, but nobody takes them seriously, and if someone does, they are dismissed as a CRACKPOT. :mrgreen: (hehehehe) Just to prove it, I call upon every ghost and demon in the history of freaking China to come and possess me and make me do the Macarena naked up and down Zhongxiao East Road. :shock: If you see me on the news tomorrow, you know what happened! :laughing: :shock:

Fengshui is a quaint tradition, and some of it is rooted in logic and science, but most of it is just plain bullshit. :unamused:

Well apparently I put a curse on a baby the other day. The mother wanted the laowai to hold him, so I complimented that he was quite heavy (hen zhong). “Ni bu keyi zheyang!!” she bellowed, scaring absolute shit out of me. Be warned, you cannot say that!!

Huh? Why not? Is it one of those inauspicious homophones?

hmmm… think they’ll take your Christmas holiday away from you again this year …???

[quote=“Maoman”]Screw the ghosts. Sure, we have our superstitions in the west, but nobody takes them seriously, and if someone does, they are dismissed as a CRACKPOT.

So, you’re calling the entire population of Taiwan “crackpots”?

Oh yeah? Go ahead, I dare you to tell Vanessa you’re going to sleep under a beam with a mirror at the foot of your bed! :twisted:

“The Communists have discouraged religious practices, which they consider anti-socialist. Many temples and churches have been closed and their property taken. During the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (or simply the Cultural Revolution), a mass movement that lasted officially from 1966 to 1977, conditions were especially difficult, and religious practitioners were persecuted. The situation eased after 1977. A number of Buddhist temples were allowed to reopen. Worship services among Christians were permitted once again, and it is believed that as many as 2 million Christians are practicing their faith in China. The Chinese government is cautious about all religious activity, especially if it happens to involve foreign people in any way.”

From Compton’s Living Encyclopedia (August 1995)

The only good communist, is a dead communist :smiling_imp:

In Japanese 9 is an unlucky number, in Chinese it’s a lucky number :? can’t both be right…

how about considering people who are still alive ? just an idea…
I’m sure their ancestors are lovely people, but I don’t want to join them yet. How many people die each year from burning all that paper ? still 100 ?
If you really must do it, why can’t you burn 1 $1000 note instead of 1000 $1 notes ? or wouldn’t that make enough smoke ?

I think something should be done to regulate the money-supply in the spirit world, otherwise the spooks will have high inflation to deal with. Perhaps the establishment of a “Bank of Hell,” or at least stringent exchange-rate controls. And they changed the design of the regular money, maybe they need new denominations for the spirit world too.

Or better yet, pit one superstition against another. We can dress up like “Ghostbusters” and pretend to zap away wandering spirits so they can’t coerce spirit-money and Taiwan Beer out of innocent people. Think “Seven Samurai” but with ghosts.

I bet a Taiwan Voodoo Parade would attract tourists…? Foreigners could dress up as the kind of zombie ghost they have in Hong Kong movies…

Taipei is flat, no intensic reason for so many people to be using internal combustion engines here. They should build protected (with concrete walls) bicycle lanes and ban driving for all but public transportation and services (this would include taxis, unfortunately), commercial vehicles, and the elderly / handicapped. Phase it in over ten years.

[/color] :blush:

I for one love a good fire - the bigger the better. Unfortunately, the one in front of my place only lasted for six hours. Oh well … there’s always next year! :wink:

what with Taiwan being a fusion of tradition and modernity (or so This Month in Taiwan assures me), why can’t people burn virtual money instead? It’s not like your modern ghost is used to handling that much cash anyway.
Do it online, or better, set up a standing order so your ghosts can budget around a reliable, steady income.

That sounds like a fab idea! Maybe you could get some Chinese friends to help you set this up as a website. A ghost website, at that!

I wouldn’t be surprised if there are already sites like this in Japan, actually.