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Halloween Party in Asia
Origin of Halloween
Halloween is widely celebrate in United States and European Country on October 31. Actually Halloween has roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain and the Christian holy day of All Saints’ Day and it is a secular celebration but some of Christians and Pagans have strong feelings about its religious side. It was the Irish immigrants who brought the tradition to the North America. Now, Halloween is celebrated with many games such as trick or treat, ghost tours, costumes, and the most famous symbol is Jack-o'-lantern.
Halloween also start to be a famous celebration in Asia. Asian countries like Japan, South Korea, China, and even my country Indonesia have their own Halloween party style. Of course, the party is adjusted with Asian tradition but it still has the main theme of Halloween. Such as the orange and black colors, pumpkins, and scary costumes.
Halloween In JapanClick thumbnail to view full-size
Halloween Party in Japan
Japanese people have celebrated Halloween for years. In fact, there is one of Japanese's festival which is similar with Halloween. It calls O-bon festival. This is a traditional festival where the Japanese people visit their ancestors graves and bring back their spirits to their homes. They are offering special foods to the spirit. Japanese people wear Yukata during O-bon festival. Yukata is a kind of summer Kimono, but it has a thinner material.
O-bon periods are nowadays different in various regions of Japan. In most regions, o-bon is celebrated around August 15th on the solar calendar. It starts from August 13th and ends on 16th. In some areas in Tokyo, obon is celebrated around July 15th on the solar calendar, and it is still celebrated on the 15th day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar in many areas in Okinawa.
During o-bon, the air in houses and cemeteries in Japan are filled with the smell of incense called senko. They are doing Toro Nagashi (floating paper lantern) and some folk dance called Bon odori.
Halloween party is very popular among young Japanese people. You will never find Japanese elders celebrate Halloween or do some trick or treat, but many Japanese parents which age between 30 - 50 or have western education background will help their children celebrate Halloween party. Children and young people usually make some costumes party. They call it Kosupure. People dress in anime/movie/computer game character costumes, uniforms, samurai/ninja clothings, kimono, Japanese's ghosts, and more. Young people enjoy wearing various costumes and make-up/masks and becoming to their favorite characters.
There is even a Japanese's pumpkin to celebrate Halloween. Japanese pumpkin is called Kabocha. It tastes sweet and great ingredient for Japanese pumpkin pie, Kabocha soup, Kabocha custard pudding, and Kabocha cookies.
Celebrate the Halloween in South Korea
People in South Korea are celebrating Halloween too, but of course most of them are young people. In Seoul, there are now a number of parties, festivals and events to help everyone celebrate the so-called spookiest day of the year. Some schools and English-language learning institutes hold Halloween parties for their students as part of their classes. Like in United States they are preparing scary costumes party, scary games. Decorating the streets and stores with Halloween's themes like Jack-o'-lantern, etc.
Most Koreans are going to major theme parks if they'd like to celebrate Halloween. Like in Lotte World located in Jamsil, Southern Seoul, in Everland, and Seoul Lands. They hold some scary adventures for visitors, games, various musical and concerts, and Boys Band performance. (I wonder if SS501 will perform in this Halloween).
Halloween festival in Korea is celebrated with the Korean Autumn Festival (Chrysanthemum Festival). One of the Korean traditional festival that almost similar with Halloween is Chuseok festival. It is a major harvest festival and a three-day holiday in Korea celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. This year Chuseok is celebrated on October 3. In Chuseok time, there is a mass exodus of Korean to their hometowns to pay respect to their ancestor's spirits.
They make rice cake called songpyeon. Another dishes which commonly prepared are bulgogi (sliced beef steak), japchee (vegetables mixed with rice noodles), and fruits.
Happy Chuseok, anyway.
Halloween in KoreaClick thumbnail to view full-size
Halloween Party in China
Chinese people acknowledge Halloween as Teng Chieh. Teng Chieh is the name of one Halloween festival in China. At Teng Chief families celebrate the lives of their relatives who have passed away before them. In honor of these family members their relatives place food and water in front of their photographs. They also light the way for these souls to return to earth through the lighting of bonfires and lanterns. Some people called Teng Chieh as lantern festivals.
Another Halloween festival is called The Feast of the Hungry Ghosts. In China the souls of the dead, particularly during the seventh lunar month, wander the earth in search of affection. They are known as the hungry ghosts because of their hunger for recognition and care.
Even now, there is an open debate in Chinese cyberspace between supporters of Western ghosts and fans of Chinese ghosts like the white snake lady and a pair of ghosts who stick out their long tongues :) Which one of them are better. This year the festival is being given a modern twist, as many young Chinese send e-Halloween cards and have online parties.
For me, Chinese ghosts are scarier than Western ones. There was a tradition in China, where dead people are given a paper spell (called hu) on their forehead and they could moved one place to another by jumping. The dead people were lead by a Buddhist monk or Taois priest. You may watch the Chinese vampire movie to know it better.
On that day, Chinese legend says, the gate to hell is opened at midnight, and ghosts swarm into the world of human beings in search of food and money.
These ghosts, who have been starving for a whole year, will enter households if they cannot find enough delicacies in the street. Therefore, people in southern China traditionally put chicken, meat, vegetables, rice, tea and fruit on their doorsteps that day. But for Chinese youngsters, Western Halloween is more fun, entertaining, and less scarier.
Halloween Party in Indonesia
Even in my country, Indonesia, there are many Halloween parties. Specially in United States Embassy and international schools. Many stores and malls are decorated with Halloween themes. But there is no trick or treat game. If you'd like to have that, you have to make an appointment before. can you imagine to make an appointment for trick or treat ? And because not every household understand the trick or treat thing, you have to ride a car to do trick or treat. Why ? It obvious, because perhaps the people who have made an appointment with you are lived far from your house. Well, Halloween is not a tradition in my country. Just party and there is no meaning for Indonesian people.
People in big cities like Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya, Denpasar, or Medan are sometime arrange a party about Halloween. They make costumes party, play games, and decorate their place with pumpkin. But Indonesian pumpkin is different than United States pumpkin. We call it labu parang and not as big as the ones in States. American parents who'd like to give their children some memories about Halloween have to make a big effort here.
If you'd like to enjoy Halloween atmosphere in Indonesia, you may visit Hailai, Hard Rock Cafe, and many clubs in Jakarta and Bali.