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Chinese Halloween

Posted by on March 17, 2012

Yeah I know, folks, it’s a bit out of season, but Halloween was the next big thing for my year in China.

Wanna see how they celebrate?

Cool.  :)

Up to this point, exploring and living and teaching in China had already been quite the life-changing experience. But because my school was so fond of hosting festivals, my participation in the culture would be increased much more.

One great example of this was Halloween. My school held a big event in a shopping center rotunda. The stage was set up in the corner of this large, lobby area in an impressive display complete with a spooky-ooky backdrop of cartoon bats and such.

This lonely stage needs some talent

No worries, we’ll get right on that, but first a little back story…

Before I came to China, I assumed Halloween to be one of many holidays I’d have to miss out on. Turns out, China has imported from America much more than just rock-n-roll and the automobile. They’ve also taken a liking to our high values and noble culture, as evidenced by them picking up on our most important and sacred day of the year. (Why, Halloween of course!) Children exposed to Western style and entertainment have a ball with this holiday. And looking back, it’s no surprise that an English school in a city was just the place to nourish this trend.

And, hey, this all makes sense; for in a culture big on saving face, there’s no better deed than putting on a mask! :)

Speaking of which, I had to go find my own. So I went to the local department store which had set some premium prices on cheaply-made costumes. I ended up getting one of those masquerade masks that had me looking like an effeminate superhero.

Don't judge me; only God can do that.

Okay, time to party. The first performers were just off stage ready for the opening act:

The audience of 200 was mainly students in costume with parents at their side. After the emcees—a teenage boy and two girls—got the show started, a dance team of 8-year-old girls pictured there in the green tops, yellow skirts and little red devil horns performed.

It had a pageant vibe as the moms made up their wee one’s faces, and the girls danced with pasted-on smiles. They were cute, though:

Thanks, Mom:

Of all days, you just had to get a pimple today!

After that was another performance of sorts, this one involving even younger children in a variety of costumes—fairy, lady bug. It was convoluted and a bit unorganized—-kids uncertain of where to go, one started crying, and parents encouraging them from the floor.

In other words, it was perfect:

What to make of this guy: Harry Potter pirate?

Well, at least Mom's enjoying it.

Next, it was time for the costume contest. Here we go. Many were dressed in the usual: pirate, superhero, a few Disney princesses. (I saw a lot of girls around town dressed as Snow White. Like Snow White, Chinese women like to stay pale and also sport that lovely black hair.)

My favorite costume was worn by a 10-year-old boy. He had cardboard boxes around his torso, arms, and head. I don’t what he was doing, but it was funny and original. Check ’em out:

Ah ha! Peter Parker, my foot!

Cardboard Man: he'll come at you with plenty of right angles, is 100% recyclable, and look, he even gets the girl.

Figures, he didn’t win the contest. Wish I was the judge.

Nope, that job went to this esteemed panel:

I like the one in the costume!

In fact, being a judge is what I thought I was supposed to be doing this night. In the days prior, Navid, our education supervisor, had coaxed me into coming, saying they needed my involvement. So as the night wore on, and I was just watching, I had to wonder why they needed me.

Well, I got my answer.

The main event had three sets of parent/child pairs get up on stage. Then I was asked to jump up there myself, along with two other first year teachers.

We were paired up with one of the parent/child combos. I got a father and his ten-year-old boy. I had no clue what for and hoped it didn’t involve speaking, because I couldn’t say ten words to dad.

Well, “lucky” me. I wouldn’t have to say a darned thing. In fact, there would soon be a moment when my mouth would be covered. For it was up to my teammates to mummify us teachers with toilet paper.

I don’t know if they had understood the tie-in to the American Halloween tradition, but yes, I had to make like a tree and get TP’d.

I guess it beats Chinese water torture.


The toilet paper was cheap, but my father/son combo did alright—especially considering the chaos with which they were scrambling around me, motivated by the hectic music and a vocal audience.

My guys were definitely doing better than Jordan’s duo:

But I couldn’t poke fun at Jordan for long. (I couldn’t do much of anything in the next few seconds.)

I could think, though, and enjoyed one of those “what am I doing here?” moments. Half-way around the world, up on stage as locals mummified me and a couple hundred more looked on.

This is China!?

It’s a testament to the way life will take you where it will–-if you let it, if you jump aboard.

Despite our good showing, our team was edged by another threesome. Oh well.

And from the look on Marilyn's face over there, it seems her team took home the prize.

But I recall the ancient Chinese saying:

“There are never any losers when covering each other in toilet paper.”

Have a great week, everyone! And if you’re curious or have a comment, let me know. I’ll see you next week!


p.s. For making it all the way to the end, I have a video for you!

3 Responses to Chinese Halloween

  1. Kris Fehr

    I really enjoyed this bog! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Eva

    Dear Brondon, this article recalls me all the happy time you had brought to me, to all of us here. Thank you!
    You are living earnestly, which will bring you all the good luck, I’m sure. I must learn from you. I’ll learn to write blogs and share with my friends and relatives. All the best!