As you reminisce about your best costume yet, keep in mind how important cultural exchange is in bringing humans closer together.
It’s that time of year, when my two favorite holidays are coming into focus—Halloween and Christmas! Christmas because…well…it’s Christmas! And Halloween because, for one night, I can be whomever I want to be.
It has been great for me to see how China is coming to embrace both holidays, but especially Halloween. Christmas has been fairly big here for years already, but it’s been only recently that Halloween has started catching on. Five years ago, I had difficulty finding much Halloween-related treats in stores. Now, there are huge Halloween displays in major shopping malls, with all sorts of decorations and costumes.
Halloween parties are becoming quite a popular thing, too. One of the things I like best about this trend is that opposite to other places like North America, where Halloween is mostly for kids (or to a lesser degree for adults without kids), it’s almost entirely for the adults in China. Perhaps the Asian love of cosplay has something to do with this odd obsession.
You have to understand: for them, suddenly seeing things like witches, spiders, ghosts, etc. can be considered to be quite unlucky. I’ve actually had neighbors in the past who quite rudely demanded that I take down my decorations!
There are, of course, plenty of expected hilarious mistakes. The Christmas lights I found being sold as Halloween decorations. The Christian religious paraphernalia being sold alongside Halloween bats and witches. My favorite was a Christmas tree, covered with Halloween decorations…an idea that I think I am going to actually embrace. Why put that tree up for only a week or so? Put it up in October, decorate it with Halloween stuff, then just change the decorations for Christmas!
Here’s a pro-tip for those of you decorating for Halloween, but getting dirty looks from the Chinese neighbors. You have to understand: for them, suddenly seeing things like witches, spiders, ghosts, etc. can be considered to be quite unlucky. I’ve actually had neighbors in the past who quite rudely demanded that I take down my decorations!
To fix this, I just showed them my jack-o-lanterns and explained the history! With my simple explanation and a bit more information like showing that my decorations are far from being bad luck, and are actually intended to keep evil away, by scaring it off, they felt better.
Of course, it worked. I’m a natural convincer. And now, those same neighbors are asking my advice about how to decorate their house for Halloween!
For the Chinese who are worried that Western holidays are “polluting” Chinese culture, you could consider a few points. First, every country should welcome opportunities for holidays, parties and celebrations! And second, the Chinese Spring Festival is rapidly becoming one of the largest celebrations all over the world, and not just by Chinese. The international spread of culture goes both ways.
You know me, I welcome any excuse for a party!
And now, an early Christmas gift for some of my readers. There’s been some speculation as to my real identity, so I’ll give you a hint. This Halloween, I dressed as one of the characters from Pirates of the Caribbean. No, not the Pearl. I’m too fit for that.