In some Eastern Asian religions, such as Buddhism, there is the concept of a “hungry ghost”. For example, in Chinese Buddhism, they conduct Chinese ancestor worship. I’ve seen and practiced Chinese ancestor worship before, but I’ll admit I’m not the greatest expert on it. However, I can tell you that ghosts are believed to return during certain times of the year (e.g. on Chinese holidays, days of their death, ect.) in search of food. Dead ancestors return to the homes of their families, where the living offer them food (such as buns, roasted duck, roasted pig, ect.) to honor and appease them. Food is often accompanied with incense, prayers, and the burning of banknotes and other paper items. Some things they pray for can include good health, long life, and prosperity for the family, ect. In this religion, they also believe that certain items (e.g. banknotes) that are burned will go to the spirit world. So by burning paper banknotes, money has just been given to the spirits (ancestors). There are some other cool stuff I have heard about being burned for one’s ancestors, such as a paper house with paper servants. That is one lucky ghost.
Relating this to the world of “Hey Arnold!”, we have seen the offering of food in an attempt to appease ghosts at least two times (in ‘Four-Eyed Jack’ and ‘Dino Checks Out’). In both cases, it is Mr. Hyunh who suggests that a food offering should be made to the ghost in the Boarding house in order to appease them and make them go away. (I’m assuming Mr. Hyunh is, on some level, religious given his beliefs about ghosts. Buddhist, perhaps?) Ernie and Oskar, at the very least, are the people who accompanies Mr. Hyunh during the food offering. Sadly, they end up offering just one fish. That’s, uh… one helluva offering.
(The fish offered to the “ghost” of Dino Spumoni. They should have at least cooked it… 😉 )
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