Yes, we celebrated Halloween. I kicked off the true pagan holiday season by shopping at a toy flea market with my friend, Pei, who happens to be a good haggler. Her secret weapon to getting low prices is being Chinese and a native speaker of Mandarin. She has a guy whose gives good prices on costumes, and he invited us to go into his storeroom of spooky fun goodies. I got two ghost costumes, two pairs of scary hand gloves, some rubber bats, neat paper calavera streamers, a big spider web and some miscellany cheap toys all for about $17!! If I had gone by myself, it would have cost a lot more or taken a lot longer to get a better deal.
This is how Halloween works here in Beijing: anyone who lives in an apartment complex or villa compound with a least a couple of North Americans enthusiastically embraces the spirit of spookiness and decorates their doorsteps, dons a disguise and goes crazy for candy.
At the mega-market where I shop on occasion there was a mad rush by Chinese on the pre-packaged bags of candy. I don’t know if they were all shopping for trick or treaters. Maybe so?
On Saturday we went to a party at Pei & Doug’s apartment complex to celebrate with her family, including Tyler (6) and Kaidan (4), Carlos and Caetano’s Asian counterparts in kiddie chaos. Tyler and Carlos used to eat in the same San Francisco sandboxes when they were babies, and Pei brought me homemade chicken soup right after Caetano was born, so those guys go waaay back. The boys played blindman’s bluff in the hallways and had a blast.
Wednesday night, C & C got spooky again as spidey and a scary ghost and we went to the Lane Bridge Villa clubhouse for another party. There were pinatas and food (which I had to elbow old chinese people out of the way for). Then big groups of kids went house to house on the quest for sugar.
I ran home to give out treats. In the past few years, I have been stuck with at least one bag of mini-snickers all to myself but not this halloween! I gave away SO MUCH candy. Everyone who lives here has a family, because why would you live in the boondocks for anything other than schools and space to ride bikes? The funny thing is, probably EVERY kid regardless of home country or cultural background came to my house for candy. Didn’t even matter if they had no costume or didn’t speak enough English to say "trick or treat." French, German, Indian, Chinese, Dutch. All kids love costumes and candy.
I asked this cool Chinese woman whose kids are in the school if they had gone trick or treating. She said no, they are Christians. I would have respected her more if she said "we are lazy and couldn’t get it together" or even "we hate American Imperialism and see Halloween as another evil capitalist ploy: candy is the opiate of the young people."
Oh, in case you are wondering, there was very little American candy. Lots of hilarious gummy things like fake teeth, trolls, mini-burgers and trippy Chinese hard candy in flavors like corn, milk and pomegranate!