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Halloween Casts Spell on Chinese

updated: 2011-11-03

Xinhua, November 1, 2011
The shopping malls and markets of Beijing have taken on a spooky tone in preparation for Halloween, which has gradually become more popular in China, despite cultural barriers and differences.
For 26-year-old Li Ye, the festival represents a chance to relax and have fun.
"It is fun to have friends around to celebrate the festival, but even strangers can have fun together," Li said.
In Sichuan province, barowners have plastered their places of business with Halloween-themed posters, fake blood and other trappings as the holiday approaches.
Li Haisheng, the owner of a small bar in Sichuan, said his business saw sales increase to the tune of 10,000 yuan (1,573 U.S. dollars) daily during last year's holiday.
"Young people are looking for ways to blow off steam. It is a good chance for me to make money," Li Haisheng said.
Chinese toddlers are even getting in on the fun. Bilingual kindergartens in Beijing have begun to hold parties for their kids, encouraging them to dress up in costumes.
However, some parents have objected to the parties, as their children are not quite ready to handle the hordes of horrors that come out to play on Halloween. One mother surnamed Liu said her child cried and asked to go home while attending a Halloween party at school.
Xia Xueluan, a doctoral tutor in Peking University's sociology department, said the way people celebrate Halloween is a contradiction of traditional Chinese beliefs, which treat the afterlife and ghosts as a taboo subject.
"We don't even talk about ghosts, let alone dress up as them on the street," Xia said.
The Chinese equivalent of Halloween is the Ghost Festival (Zhongyuan Festival), which falls on the 15th night of the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar. The festival is a time for families to pay homage to their ancestors, according to Xia.

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