A number of superstitions surround joss paper in Asian society. As a general rule, joss paper should never be given to a living person, because this is viewed as highly offensive. It is also kept concealed when it is stored at home, because it is supposed to bring down bad luck when left on display. Joss paper should never be used for anything other than its intended purpose, and while Westerners may be tempted to use it for decorating, they should be aware that Asian guests may be offended or feel uncomfortable when it is on display, as it is associated with death.
Incense paper differs slightly from joss paper, though serves the same purpose. Incense paper is a yellow coloured paper with a gold foil printed on it representing a gold tael or with a silver foil representing a silver tael. A tael is a weight measurement similar to the Thai bath, part of the Chinese system of weights and the currency. A further form is a single-coloured paper with one side having a rougher surface and the other side a smoother one. Such papers come in varying colours and are supposed to represent cloth for the ancestors.
February 10th – Chinese New Year 2013 – I visited the largest Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road in Hong Kong watching the ritual of burning Joss Paper to worship the ancestors. Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese New year vary widely. It is traditional for every family to clean the house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors will be decorated with red colour paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of “good fortune” or “happiness”, “wealth”, and “longevity.” Other activities include lighting firecrackers and giving money in red paper envelopes.
Joss Paper, also known as ghost money or spirit money , are sheets of paper & paper-crafts made into burnt offerings which are common in traditional Chinese religious practices including the veneration of the deceased on holidays and special occasions. Joss paper are also burned in traditional Chinese funerals, to ensure that the spirit of the deceased has lots of good things in the afterlife.