Walk along the street in older neighborhoods and you’ll see tiny shrines built into the walls of buildings or sitting outside shops, loaded with fruits or incense. Sometimes you’ll even see such sites indoors, in the stairwells of older buildings outside homes.
These shrines are part of the Chinese tradition of burning joss paper, or “ghost money”, as sacrificial offerings to ancestors. Most commonly done at temples or funerals, Hongkongers also burn joss paper to honor ancestors during special occasions. While “hell money” (paper styled to look like bank notes, cheques and credit cards) is the most common form of offering, more creative options are sometimes seen, from paper mache crafts to paper iPhones and other items of convenience. The practice isn’t limited to just Hong Kong, but can also be seen among the Chinese populations in Taiwan and Vietnam, for instance.