How to Celebrate Halloween for a Whole Week in Taiwan

Dear everyone!

Wow!  I can’t believe that October is almost over!  But you know what that means?  It means that Halloween is upon us!  For me, though, it almost over since I spent the whole past week celebrating it with my classes.  The sheer ridiculousness of this week warranted its own blog post so I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did!

But how do you make what is celebrated in one evening in America into a weeklong extravaganza to be celebrated in 40 minute increments?  Well, read and you’ll find out!

Step 1: Make an awesome costume

Without an amazing costume you Halloween celebrations will undoubtedly fall short and be inauthentic to the kids.  Since Taiwan does not celebrate Halloween, you will have to make your own costume, but don’t worry, there’s plenty you can do now that the Internet exists!  Find a DIY Halloween costume website and steal the idea to make a bat costume.

Then, obtain the needed materials.  Make sure to  demand a black umbrella.  When the saleswoman tries to give you a navy blue umbrella reiterate that you want a cheap BLACK umbrella.  When the woman gives you a black umbrella with a silver lining refuse it and insist on a black umbrella.  Once you’ve bought two, since you and your roommate will be making them, proceed to look for a black hoodie.  But since you only have one night to make the costume, if you can’t find one, settle for a men’s black, button-down shirt and give up completely on finding a black hat to attach bat ears to.  Settle for just having wings.  Hope to find a mask on Friday.

After class on Thursday, spend a lot of time breaking apart the umbrella that you worked so hard to procure and then, after you have successfully cut it in half and removed the umbrella rod, begin to sew the halves to the side and arm of the black shirt.  Avoid stabbing yourself too many times.  Play “Big, Bang Theory” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” to keep yourself sane as you keep plugging away at the costume.

Me, fighting with my umbrella. It was not an easy battle!

The umbrella is still not giving up. But I'm not either!

Success! I have managed to beat the umbrella! And then I cut it up for good measure!

On Friday, leave right after EV to go to the stationary store which is your last ditch attempt at finding bat ears or a mask.  Find a mask which can work and buy it without asking questions or trying it on.  Race home to get ready for the next phase of this operation.

Step 2: Test Run

Before you subject your costume to a week’s worth of students grabbing at your wings and arms, make sure to see how it holds up by going to a Halloween party hosted by foreigners from the Foreign Service in Taiwan.  Put your costume one upon arriving in Taipei at your hostel and then take ridiculous pictures with friends.

A pair of bats!

One of my favorite pics of my costume!

Once everyone is ready, walk across the city to the party.  Make sure to get lots of ridiculous pictures as you create a stir by walking through some of the most crowded parts of the city.  Also find out that the mask is not shaped for a foreigner’s nose and is too short for you to wear comfortably.  Deal with the slight discomfort for the sake of the costume.  Take it off as soon as possible after arriving at the party.

No, that is not a foreigner dressed as a Taiwanese man in the center, that is a real Taiwanese man who asked to take a picture with all of us as we walked through Xin Men Ding! We got so many stares!

Just two bats chilling on a subway...

Harry Potter, a bat, and a smart cookie... What a trio!

After the party, take inventory of your costume and then, upon seeing that it held up just fine, consider it a go for the week!

Step 3: Take the costume to school and celebrate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Prior to Monday, make sure to prepare some Halloween activities for the kids.  Find outlines for the kids to color in and make masks so that they can go trick or treating.  Buy candy (the good stuff–like Snickers and M&Ms—just like your parents taught you).  Prep your costume for four days of students grabbing it.  Get lots of sleep.

At Kuang Sing, my school that I teach at on Mondays and Thursdays, we treated the 1st graders to a round of trick-or-treating after teaching them a few Halloween words and letting them watch “Monster Mash” by the Groovie Goolies.  Then on Thursday, we let all the rest of the grades watch either “Monster Mash” or “This is Halloween” and let them trick or treat and get some candy.  The younger kids really got into the lesson and some of them even dressed up!

So students, who can tell me? What am I?

My first grader class! They loved it when I taught the Halloween lesson in my bat costume!

I think my favorite student was from the 1st grade whose parents used two trash bags and some wire to fashion him a wizard costume and hat.  You can see how cute he looked in his costume!

Me, Ellen, and the only two first graders who dressed up on Thursday! So cute!

Then, at Ching Gou, the school I go to on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the students got to trick or treat at the teacher’s office.  The school provided Fererro  Rocher truffles for the students who recited the “Trick or Treat” song.  It was cute!  Sadly, since this school wasn’t as into Halloween as Kuang Sing, only one student actually dressed up but many of the others enjoyed making their masks in class that they then used when trick or treating.  The masks were super cute and I really liked what the kids did with them!  So adorable!

A bunch of the 3rd grade girls waiting in line to trick or treat with their masks at Ching Gou.

Wednesday, the only one to dress up at Ching Gou. Wasn't she cute? And she even brought her own little trick or treat pumpkin bag!

What was probably the funniest was that at both schools was that my students all felt the incredible urge to point out, repeatedly, that my wings were umbrellas!  In most cases, the conversation (in Chinese, of course, but translated for your reading pleasure) would go like this:

Kid #1: That’s an umbrella!

Kid #2: It is an umbrella! Wow!

Kid #1: That’s amazing!  (To me now:)  Did you make it?

Me: Yes, I made this myself.

Kid #1 and #2: WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That’s so cool!  You’re awesome!

The kids also liked wearing my eye mask and since it was terribly uncomfortable for me to wear, I usually gave it to them until it became too big of a distraction.  But it was awesome and I have some of the best pictures from this week!

I think what made my week though, was on Thursday, when I ran down to the teacher’s office to get the pictures from the school camera that had been taken that morning, one of my precious little first graders drew a Halloween drawing for me.  So when I walked by the classroom, he came running out with it and handed it to me, saying that he was giving it to me.  I asked him to write his name on the back but he said he couldn’t so he wrote his student number on the back which was even cuter!  So I have the most adorable Halloween drawing with a large number 6 on the back.  Needless to say, it is now hanging on my wall where it can be displayed until I leave next year.  I love my kids so much!!!!!!!

The Halloween picture that my first grader drew for me!

Well, I hoped you all liked learning about how to celebrate Halloween here in Taiwan.  It has been a blast!  Happy Halloween everyone!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Don’t eat too much candy!


From Ellen and me to you: Happy Halloween!!


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