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Learn Chinese by Celebrating Halloween

Before the start of November every year, the town slowly turns into a city filled with cobwebs and carved 南瓜 (nánguā) pumpkins. Stores start to sell more candles and eerie masks. People start to decorate their homes with spooky and frightening ornaments. Kids commence preparing their petrifying costumes for the annual costume party and trick-or-treating. Some pay a visit to their loved ones that passed away. Others stay at home and cook traditional delicacies. Halloween, once again, starts. 

Annually, we participate in the booming and rich tradition of celebrating Halloween 万圣 (Wàn Shèng Jié). We take necessary preparation to greet and celebrate it properly. Furthermore, most of us ensure that we participate in the practices that come along with it. 

Most of us once wondered where did this rich culture originate. In line with our lesson in learning how to express the traditions and practices of Halloween in Chinese, we will also tackle its origin.

Origin of Halloween


Halloween has its roots way back in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts of European descent celebrated this during the 31st of October. The celebration marked the end of summer and the beginning of the dark and cold winter. The Celts believe that during this time, the boundary between the living and the dead becomes vulnerable. On the night of the celebration, Celts surmise that the supernatural returned to the living realm. 

The Celts believe that the presence of supernatural spirits on Earth during this time brings forth trouble. To combat this, Druids build enormous sacred bonfires to offer crops and animals. During this celebration, Celts wore costumes which passed down and still practiced to this day.


The Roman Empire eventually conquered most of the Celtic territory by 43 A.D. Because of this, they integrated the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain into two Roman festivals. 

The first one was the Feralia or the tradition of commemorating relatives who passed. The second one was to honor the Roman goddess of fruit and trees, Pomona. The symbol of Pomona is the apple, explaining the culture of bobbing apples practiced for Holloween. 

All Souls’ Day

During the rise of Christian influence in the Celtic lands, Celtic rites eventually intertwined with Christian tradition. In 1000 A.D., the church made November two as All Souls’ day to replace the Celtic Samhain celebration. 

All Souls’ Day celebration is similar to Samhain’s. Its commemoration involves lit fires, parades, and costumes. People began to call All Souls’ Day, the traditional night of Samhain’s celebration, ‘All Hallows Eve,’ and eventually became Halloween.

Modern Halloween

Now, we greet Halloween for various reasons. May that motive be to have fun at costume parties and go treat-or-tricking or give tribute to our loved ones who passed, Halloween remains as one of the biggest celebrations observed globally.

Halloween changed over the years. From a sacred ritual, it has become an annual celebration of horror movies and candies. Nevertheless, its practice remains to be rich and profound. Halloween is the accumulation of hundreds of years of tradition passed down from one generation to another. Some of its customs may have changed across history. However, it is still heartwarming to know that we participate in a rich tradition that started thousands of years ago.

With Halloween just around the corner, we must understand the terminologies used during the celebration. Let’s take today’s lesson to learn how to express the traditions and practices of Halloween in the Chinese language.

Here are some keywords of Halloween in Chinese

万圣节 (Wàn Shèng Jié) Halloween

讨糖 (tǎotáng) trick or treat

道具服 (dàojù fú ) costumes

南瓜灯(nánguā dēng) Jack o’ lantern 

鬼屋 (guǐ wū) haunted houses

恐怖片 (kǒngbù piàn) Horror movies

鬼魂 (guǐhún) ghost

玩恶作剧 (wán èzuòjù) play pranks

To further analyze and develop a more profound understanding of the lesson, let us delve into the examples below:

Háizi men zài Wànshèngjié qiánxī yòng nánguā zuò dēnglong

孩子  们     在      万圣节           前夕     用     南瓜       做    灯笼。
Children make lanterns out of pumpkins at Halloween.

Guānyú “bù gěi táng jiù dǎodàn ”chuántǒng de láiyuán yǒu hěnduō zhēng yì

关于  “不  给     糖    就     捣蛋”       传统           的  来源      有   很多        争议。

There is a lot of debate around the origins of trick-or-treating. 

Shèngzhuāng shì zuì shòu huānyíng de Wànshèngjié fēngsú zhī yī

盛装              是  最   受     欢迎         的  万圣节             风俗    之 一。

Dressing up in costumes is one of the most popular Halloween customs.

Nánguā dēng de chuántǒng láizì yú yígè mínjiān chuánshuō

南瓜     灯      的   传统           来自 于 一个    民间    传说。

The tradition of the Jack o’ Lantern comes from a folktale.

Happy Halloween to everyone!

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