Happy Halloween! Chinese edition

We know, we know, Halloween is, at best, a North American gimmick that gives women an excuse to dress scantily, and children an excuse to develop diabetes. But the holiday is still much beloved by North Americans the world over, and it is catching on (albeit slowly) in China as well.

The Christian Science Monitor just published a new piece written by a mom living in Beijing. Author Debra Bruno writes about her experience with Halloween in China, including an attempt to throw a kid-friendly Halloween party:

“But daily life in China’s capital city is not especially Halloween friendly, even though you’ll see occasional decorations. In a local mall, pumpkin decals cover the sliding glass doors under the heading, ‘Amazing Halloween.’ Inside the mall is a large display with plastic pumpkins and a fake-looking haunted house façade. Meanwhile, the expat-friendly restaurants are advertising Halloween parties for children and teenagers

But try to find some candy corn in this town. The Chinese don’t quite get our western obsession with sweets. ‘Fruit is Not. A. Dessert,’ my daughter’s friend Emily says drily. What I wouldn’t give for those little ‘fun’ sized boxes of malted milk balls. One mother plaintively asked on one listserv: ‘I am looking for a bakery that can make Halloween cupcakes and treats for my child’s school…Also, is there a store that sells bags of Halloween candy?’ So far, no one has responded to her. Another friend has spent the last week or so hunting for a costume for her two-year-old. ‘I may just have to paint whiskers on his face and let him wear kitty ears,’ she says with a sigh …

Despite the tame nature of the festival, the party (not the Party) was cut short this year. Management is concerned, the Halloween planner writes by e-mail, that ‘we will look like a protest in the election year and somebody could call the police.’

But in truth, the celebration was pretty subdued – unless you count the little boy who refused to don his incredibly cute homemade helicopter costume, preferring to push a stroller down the sidewalk. He’ll be a rickshaw driver instead, his mother said with a shrug.

I did notice a man in a dark suit walking officiously away toward the end of the gathering, which drew about 200 people, mainly Chinese. I heard that the organizer, decked out in purple balloons to look like a bunch of grapes, was told it had to end at 5:15 promptly. And it did.”

Very interesting read.

As for all the costumes we buy in North America? No big surprises, but a bit of tasty irony here–while the country may not actually celebrate Halloween, China is responsible for 75% of the world’s Halloween supplies.

This courtesy of The Business Insider, which reports that China dominates the Halloween industry worldwide:

“Yes, your intuition that all those pop-up Halloween stores sell nothing but Chinese junk proves true. Mainland China and Hong Kong supply 86% of our ocean-borne ‘Halloween’ shipments.  However, the ImportGenius.com for U.S. imports only includes ocean freight shipping manifests, so this discussion ignores overland imports from Mexico, which may be considerable.

Mexico’s contribution notwithstanding, China’s share of U.S. ‘Halloween’ imports outnumbers all the other countries in the world combined by more than 5 to 1. Apart from Taiwan and South Korea, no other place supplied even 1% of the shipments.”

Read more on China, France, expat life, American politics, and the world beyond in the latest edition of Carnet Atlantique!

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One Response to Happy Halloween! Chinese edition

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