China Elevator Stories

Inviting ghosts into our home

I put my umbrella onto the balcony outside my apartment in Shenzhen to let it dry.


Ruth Silbermayr-Song


At the end of March 2014, the Guangdong region is hit by heavy rainstorms. One day after coming back home in the evening, I put my drenched umbrella onto the balcony to let it dry. But seeing that it almost gets carried away by heavy winds, I decide to put the open umbrella into the living room to let it dry.

When my husband comes home a bit later, the first thing he does is to take the umbrella from the floor and close it. He says: “We have this belief in China that you can’t put an open umbrella into your home. It would mean that you’re inviting ghosts into your house.”

When I ask him about it another time, he explains: “A living person has a shadow. According to traditional Chinese beliefs, the ghosts of people who have died look like people without shadows. If you open an umbrella in your home, there’s a shadow beneath it. The umbrella would work as an entrance – a ghost would use the shadow beneath the umbrella like a door, using it to come into your home.”

Have you ever heard of this superstition?