Halloween is a holiday that is primarily celebrated in the West. Halloween has its origin in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain, which is pronounced sah-win. But while Halloween is a much bigger celebration in Western cultures, it is also celebrated in Eastern cultures.
In China, Halloween is known as the Ghost Festival or Hungry Ghost Festival. The Ghost Festival is a celebration of the departed souls and it is celebrated on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month (July). Chinese Halloween lasts several days, beginning on July 1 and ending on July 14. The Chinese believe that during this two week period, the gates of the underworld are open and the spirits are looking for a way to re-enter the human world.
The Chinese days of the dead are also celebrated at other times throughout the year, but the month of July is particularly important. July is known as the Ghost Month or Gui Yue. During this month, ghosts of the deceased are thought to be searching the country for entertainment. Because of these traveling ghosts, most citizens refrain from partaking in anything they consider “dangerous”, such as swimming or being outside alone at night.
As mentioned, there are other times of year when the dead are celebrated including the Qing Ming Festival which takes place in early April, the Double Nine Festival which takes place in autumn and Chinese Spring Festival. These days are an integral part of the folk religion known as Daoism. These festivals / celebrations are hundreds of years old and they are days where people either protect themselves from the pranks of the deceased or they honor their dead.
Halloween, as it is celebrated here in the West, has entered the Eastern culture though, via foreign teachers and Western expatriates. In cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, Halloween is more commonly acknowledged and celebrated due to the influx of foreigners. Hong Kong is another area where traditional Halloween decorations may be found around October 31st and this is because of places like Disneyland. So while Halloween is celebrated differently and at different times of year, it is still a tradition that is celebrated worldwide.
Happy Halloween! 万圣节快乐！Wansheng Jie Kuaile!