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I think that if I do not live overseas, I will not participate in any Halloween activities.

In many western countries during October, the streets are filled with all kinds of jack-o-lanterns, spider webs and other Halloween decorations.  On the night of October 31, people dress as ghosts, witches riding broomsticks with their black cats, or as devils to scare people! 

Children dress themselves in costumes and knock on doors for candy, never forgetting to say the phrase, “Trick or treat!”.  Halloween is also one of children’s favorite holiday.

In fact, the earliest Halloween was the annual Harvest Festival of the Serbs ( known as the Scots, the Irish, etc.). The festival symbolizes the end of the year and the beginning of a new year, but it is also known as the end of the fall and the arrival of winter to some people.

More than two thousand years ago, the most frightening day of the year of the Serbs is October 31.  They believed that the world’s life is dominated by gods, and the death of the God Samhain will allow the dead people to return to Earth on the night of October 31. 

Although October 31 is the day when the Serbs express their gratefulness and respect for the sun god because of their abundant harvest, it is also the most powerful day of evil, where all the rules of time and space will fail and yin and yang will combine into one. Therefore, this is the only chance for a ghost to find a living scapegoat.

On the terrifying night of October 31, the living Serbs, in attempt to ward off the dead, would extinguish their fireplaces to create a cold, dark environment, and deliberately dress themselves with animal heads and skins to look like monsters. 

They would make horrible sounds with their voices to scare away the ghosts so they couldn’t tell who was living or who was dead, preventing a ghost to take their place. The following morning, however, everything will be back to normal.

As time passed, the mood of Halloween gradually became more festive than it was originally. Now the monsters of Halloween have become cute and mischievous in appearance, for example, the pumpkin monsters, witches, and so on. 

Despite that, however, people like me who grew up in the East are still not used to this Western Halloween (especially when some people are dressed as vampires) and cannot bring themselves to feel the festive atmosphere. So every year on October 31, I remain a bystander who would merely look at the holiday’s festivities.

Because my eldest daughter had learned more about western culture since she entered primary school this year, she began to expect Halloween to come around for a while. She also attended her school’s Halloween party and planned to go trick-or-treating with her friends. 

I was very opposed to it at first, since I didn’t want her to go out in such cold weather, but eventually relented after seeing the excitement and enthusiasm on their faces. My daughter was too shy to knock on people’s door for the first few times, since it was her very first time trick-or-treating. 

After a while, though, she eventually built up her courage and became more active and outgoing, greeting people politely and never forgetting to say, “Thank you,” and “Happy Halloween!” 

I was deeply touched by the excitement and joy of the children, and the happiness of sharing candy with them.

When my daughter came back with a big bag of candy, she was so excited and called her friends to share with them her first trick-or-treating experience. I think she not only gained a pack of candy, but also valuable lessons that night.

Maybe nothing is unchangeable, but one’s idea about it can change one’s mood!

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Translation:  Ireen Chau

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