The first thing we think about Halloween is dressing up in costumes. What’s more fun than cosplay? But the holiday is so much more than that. This article won’t discuss the history of the evolution of this ancient tradition but will focus on some of the more common activities that people will do to get into the party mood.
In the days leading up to Halloween, friends and families will visit a farm, pumpkin patch, or local market to find their favorite pumpkin. They might spend hours playing in the outdoors and searching for just the right one. Upon getting it home, they use unique tools designed just for the activity of carving a face or a picture out of this big orange squash. If you don’t have the specific tools, you can get by using a large spoon, a large knife, and a smaller paring knife.
Find the right pumpkin
In Tianjin, it can be difficult to find the right type of pumpkin for carving. Most of the pumpkins in the marketplace are too flat and don’t provide the amount of surface area needed on the side for a life-like face. Don’t fret too much however, many people can get lucky asking their local vegetable supplier to procure some tall pumpkins for them from the countryside around Tianjin. Read our handy guide for how to make this request in Chinese.
Halloween: 万圣节 wànshèngjié
Carve: 雕刻 diāokè
Wànshèngjié de shíhòu wǒ huì diāokè nánguā
I will carve pumpkins for Halloween
Copy/paste 万圣节南瓜 in Taobao to find pumpkin
Copy/paste 万圣节装饰 in Taobao to find decorations
A little advice before starting carving: don’t carve your pumpkin too early, once the insides are scooped out they can go bad quickly. The best period to carve is 3 or 4 days prior to Halloween so you can decorate your home and yard for a few days and then throw it away immediately after the celebration.
Another pumpkin-related activity is to use the seeds removed during carving for a yummy and healthy snack. Free as many seeds as you can from the pumpkin guts, rinse them, and then boil for a few minutes in salted water. Dry them with some paper towel and place on a baking sheet. Season to taste with oil, salt and pepper, curry, even cinnamon and sugar if you want something a little sweet. Bake for 20 minutes at 165C, checking often to make sure they’re cooking evenly.
Finally, on the day of Halloween, prepare your favorite costume. Hopefully, you’ve been planning it for a while and have all the necessary articles. Make a crazy hair style, wear some interesting make-up or face paint. Find the event or activity that you’re most interested in participating. Most places have prizes for best costume so be creative.
In other parts of the world, most people are ready to participate in the holiday so everyone in your neighborhood will prepare a treat for visiting children in their costumes. Children will knock on the door and say trick-or-treat. The resident will put either candy or a small toy into the children’s’ trick-or-treat bag. The phrase trick-or-treat means that if you don’t give the child a treat then the child will play a naughty trick on you.
Here in Tianjin, most people aren’t aware of this aspect of the holiday so if you want your child to experience it you will need to find a gathering where families are getting together to celebrate or a party at a local establishment. Some years, the convention center will do something for Halloween so stay tuned if we get any news of that happening.
Bobbing for apples
This traditional game may involve getting a bit wet if you really want to succeed. Without using your hands you need to get your teeth into an apple that’s floating in a large bucket of water. And if that’s not hard enough, you still have to pull it out of the water and only then can you drop it into your hands.
This is customary as a fall festival treat. Apples will be coated in a hard shell that is similar to the candied hawthorn found in Tianjin street food. There is also a chocolate version.
This game is universal, stop by Aocheng and see the game in full swing. Throw a ring at a cone or an object. If the ring lands on it you win a prize or receive points.
Pin the nose on the monster
The traditional version of this game is pin the tail on the donkey but it can be adapted for any holiday or party. The poor donkey lost his tail and you have to put it back on, BUT you will be blindfolded. If your friends are really mean they will also turn you around a few times so you have no idea which direction you’re facing.
Costume Contest (or photo booth)
Wearing your favorite costume, some combination of judges or favoritism will decide who is the most creative, or best couple, or even sometimes worst dressed. If you’re not interested in the competition, take advantage of the photo opportunities to save the memories of you and your friends and family dressed up in so many silly, beautiful, or creepy ways
A mandatory Halloween party activity, do you dare to put your hand inside the mystery boxes? Maybe it will be spiders, a warm heart, worms, or blood! Most likely it will be string, a peeled tomato, cold noodles, or spaghetti sauce. The terror comes from not knowing for sure and not being able to see inside the box.
Donut eating contest
Who knows why this became part of Halloween culture, but you’ll find donuts, or cookies, hanging from the ceiling at almost every holiday gathering. When the host says GO, try to eat your donut the fastest without using your hands.
While there are so many other possible activities, there are just too many to talk about in one article. We’ve tried to cover the most common but let us know in the comments which activities we should have mentioned or which one is your favorite. Also, we’re consolidating all of the Halloween activities in Tianjin into one convenient place, so choose your favorite and have a Happy and Spooky Halloween.