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It’s That Spooky Time of Year Again!

Oct. 30, 2020

”万圣节 (wànshèngjié) Halloween” is celebrated on October 31st in many countries around the world, and even though it’s not a Chinese holiday, over the years it has become very popular in China, Taiwan, and other Asian countries and regions. But today we won’t spend much time on the cultural background of this holiday – since you may very know more than me!

I have realized that some Mandarin Chinese Halloween vocabulary words are quite literal in their meanings, and I’d like to take a look at them together with you!

Unique decorations

As soon as the fall hits, we start to see the familiar trappings of the spooky holiday – jack o’ lanterns, bats, skeletons and spider webs, to name a few.

These stand out among the familiar fall tropes like leaves, scarfs, and warm drinks, and set the stage for the fun night when people get to dress up and pretend to be someone (or something) they’re not!

1. 南瓜 (nánguā): (n.) pumpkin

南瓜灯 (nánguā dēng): (n.) jack o’ lantern

Examples:

lù de liǎngbiān guà mǎnle nánguā dēng.
路的两边挂满了南瓜灯。
There are pumpkin lanterns on both sides of the road.

wǒ xǐhuān chī nánguā.
我喜欢吃南瓜。
I like to eat pumpkin.

2. 骷髅 (kūlóu): (n.) skeleton; skull

Examples:

tā de yīfú shàng yǒu kūlóu tú’àn.
他的衣服上有骷髅图案。
There is a skull design on his clothes.

kūlóu ràng rén hàipà!
骷髅让人害怕!
Skeletons are scary!

3. 蜘蛛 (zhīzhū): (n.) spider

蜘蛛网 (zhīzhūwǎng): (n.) spider web; cobweb

Examples:

zhīzhū yǒu hěnduō tiáo tuǐ.
蜘蛛有很多条腿。
Spiders have many legs.

qiángbì shàng bù mǎnle zhīzhū wǎng!
墙壁上布满了蜘蛛网!
The walls are covered with spider webs!

4. 蝙蝠 (biānfú): (n.) bat

Examples:

biānfú huì fēi.
蝙蝠会飞。
Bats can fly.

biānfú jīngcháng zài wǎnshàng chūmò.
蝙蝠经常在晚上出没。
Bats often appear at night.

Suprising costumes

On Halloween, everyone wears all kinds of costumes, from simple sheets thrown over the head to elaborate get-ups with scary makeup! China has a good idiom to describe this phenomenon: “奇装异服 (qízhuāngyìfú)”.

奇装异服 (qízhuāngyìfú) means “bizarre dress”. The word “奇” means “novel”, and ”异” means ”special”, so “奇装异服(qízhuāngyìfú)” can be used to mean clothes that are more special than those ordinarily worn. “服装(fúzhuāng)” covers all different kinds of clothes in general, including formal wear, casual clothes, and others.

奇装异服 (qízhuāngyìfú): (n.) bizarre dress

yǒu de rén xǐhuān chuān qízhuāngyìfú, xiǎnde hěn yǒu gèxìng.
有的人喜欢穿奇装异服,显得很有个性。
Some people like to wear bizarre clothes, it really shows their personality.

Haunted house

Is there anything that “embodies” the “spirit” (pun intended!) of Halloween more than a haunted house? Inside its scary walls, anything can happen! The excitement, unknown, and a bit of fear make for an unforgettable experience (especially youngsters) in such a classic setting.

鬼 (guǐ): (n.) ghost

鬼屋 (guǐwū): (n.) haunted house (lit. “ghost house”)

guǐwū lǐ chōngchìzhe jiān jiào sheng!
鬼屋里充斥着尖叫声!
The haunted house is full of screams!

guǐwū hěn hǎowán!
鬼屋很好玩!
Haunted houses are fun!

However you end up celebrating Halloween this year, make sure you stay safe and enjoy your time with friends and family. Of course, if you’re planning on doing some trick-or-treating, then I also wish you good luck in getting your favorite kinds of candy… remember to save some for me!

HSK 3 quiz
Please choose the best answer.

What does “奇装异服” mean?
A.Bizarre dress
B. Formal dress
C. Casual dress

You May Want to Learn More:

3 Chinese Idioms About Being Grateful in Time for Thanksgiving

Know The Differences Between Western Halloween and Chinese Ghost Festival

What you should know for Valentine’s Day in China?

HSK 1 quiz

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