Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Mandarin Chinese-- Lesson 39 (Western Halloween in China and Chinese Ghost Festival)

       Chinese Language Learning Program
     Lesson 39 – Western Halloween in China and
Chinese Ghost Festival

Hello, everyone. Welcome back. This is Baixues Chinese Language Learning Program. Last time, we talked about a Chinese idiom- bá miáo zhù zhǎng (拔苗助长). Today, we are going to talk about Western Halloween in China and Chinese Ghost Festival.

Halloween is coming. You can see a lot of things about Halloween are sold in almost all supermarkets in the United States. Is this holiday popular in China? How Chinese people celebrate this holiday? We will find out the answers now.

Ok. Lets see some Chinese Characters about Halloween.

wàn shèng jié                           nán guā dēng
             节 (Halloween)              (Jack-o'-lantern)

táng guǒ                dào jù fǔ                   zhuāng shì
      (candy)      服 (costume)           饰 (decoration)

guǐ jié                                yóu xíng                huà zhuāng
   (Ghost festival)         行 (parade)          妆 (make-up)

kóng bù piān                          dào jǜ                miàn jǜ
         (horror movie)      具 (prop)        具 (mask)

Ok, let’s see how Halloween is popular in China and know the Chinese Ghost Festival.

Halloween is usually a Western holiday, but it gets more and more popular in China nowadays. Just like Christmas and Valentine day aren't Chinese holidays, many Chinese people will still celebrate these traditional Western holidays and sometimes much more over celebrated them.

I did not really know what Halloween is and few Chinese people celebrated this holiday years ago before I came to USA (8 year ago). I can not forget my first Halloween in Arizona. I'd been scared and stayed an entire night inside my apartment. It may sound crazy, but that was true. I told my girlfriends who were in China about Halloween, and they all thought that it absolutely was interesting.

Recent years, lots of Chinese young people copy many Western holidays, for example, Halloween, Christmas and Valentine day, etc. These holidays surely are the good resources for mercantile organizations to make huge seasonal money. I've got to say a number of people in China truely have wonderful time with these holidays. Now let’s take a peek what Halloween will be in China.

There are various ways how Chinese people to make Halloween celebrations in China.  These celebrations may not be creative, but these activities are really what some Chinese people will do in Halloween day.

The very first way to celebrate Halloween in China:

Just like most of the marketplaces in the United States, many different supermarkets in a few cities in China will also launch all sizes of pumpkins to attract people to buy for decorating their house to celebrate the arrival of the Halloween.

The second way to celebrate Halloween in China:

Many people will carry pumpkin buckets stuffed with candies around and wear masks or the costumes to offer their candies to kids whom they are able to meet. This is totally different from in Western. In Western, kids will wear their funny or cool costumes or masks to visit their neighbors for treats. However in China, those with costumes or masks will give their candies to kids they meet                                                

The third way to celebrate Halloween in China:
Many people will wear ghost masks or/and wear funny or scary costumes to attend Halloween party or parade that is host by certain sponsors who will make some bucks by selling tickets or/and masks, costumes, props and decorations, etc.

The fourth way to celebrate Halloween in China:

A number of people will go to KTV for a celebration with friends or family at Halloween's eve. The space in KTV will probably be decorated with some wonderful Halloween ornaments. People will have more enjoyable moments when they sing with Halloween masks or costumes in KTV.

The sixth way to celebrate Halloween in China:

Many people will spend their time with their family during Halloween. They may have dinner at home or in the restaurant. After dinner, they will watch some horror movies or movies about Halloween or ghosts.


The six ways above are all the ways I know how Chinese people celebrate Halloween. I believe there must be more different options Chinese people using to celebrate this special moment.

But not all Chinese people will celebrate Halloween. Chinese Counselor Huang Jialiang stated that it is not really good to copy Halloween in China, because we really do not have the history or the background of Halloween, and many Chinese people have no any idea about the origins of this western holiday. Most of young people in China only blindly copy or imitate it and even turn it into a superstition.

Actually, we have our very own “Halloween” in China. It is called “Ghost Festival”.

In Chinese lunar calendar, the fifteenth day of the seventh month is known as Ghost Day and the whole seventh month generally is named the Ghost Month. Some people believe that ghosts and spirits, including the ones that relating to their deceased ancestors will show up from the other world in Ghost Month. The Ghost Festival, also known as Half July (Lunar) is also called Hungry Ghost Festival.

There are a few superstitions regarding the Ghost Festival. One of which is that in the Ghost Month, few people will go to swim in the river. Because some people believe that the evil spirits in the water might make you drown. Besides, many kids are also required to go home early instead of wandering around alone in the night time. Some people believe that the wandering ghosts from the other world might possess children at that night. Usually almost nobody will get married in lunar July. Getting married in this month means bad luck with their marriage.

Some places in China will host Yulan Pot Fairs in the Ghost Festival day. During the festival, people will spontaneously organize Yangko performances, the Dagon Dance and Lion Dance, sometimes, along with Chinese martial arts shows. In some place of China, people will drift lanterns along the rivers during Ghost Festival. This is known as "floating river lanterns".

Due to the traditional Ghost Festival, not all of Chinese people will copy and celebrate the Western Halloween in China. Some people believe that Halloween decorations or props are unpropitious.

2013 Halloween is approaching, are you ready for it?

That is all for today. We will talk about cooking equipment in our next class.  (we will finish food related things in our next 3 lessions.)

xiè  xiè 

xià   cì   jiàn 
      ! (See you next time!)



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