It seems to us that Halloween has a totally different atmosphere with the traditional Chinese Ghost Festival, also known as Yu Lan Jie, regardless both are meant to remember the dead. The distinctiveness among the two culture makes the huge gap between them, let’s see how big that difference is.


Whenever we talk about Halloween, we would first come to our minds with thoughts like Halloween costume parties, carving pumpkins into jack-o’ lanterns, trick-or-treating among the neighbourhood, or visiting haunted attractions. As it actually is a Christian feast, attending church services and lighting candles on the graves of the dead is still popular among the religion. In fact, more like a commercial and secular celebration, we rarely find it frightening.


Enveloping us with a far more haunting atmosphere, we believe that the dead would revisit us on the Chinese Ghost Festival. For the whole month of the Lunar July, the Ghost Month, spirits would come back and visit us from the lower realm. There are a few customs that we would do during the month. The ghosts are believed to be ancestors of those of whom we have forgotten to pay tribute to them after they died, therefore we burn paper houses, cars, servants, etc. as offering to them. Entertainment were also offered to the deceased. On the 14th day, the Ghost Festival, Chinese Opera would be performed with rows of red seats reserved for them. There are also numbers of traditional taboos that we have to follow during the month, making it rather eerie.


We create a spooky atmosphere for Halloween by ourselves to make things more interesting as a kind of celebration. On the contrary, the Chinese Ghost Festival is deeply influenced by the traditional filial piety that it is believed the deceased would visit the living. Instead of celebration, people would follow taboos and perform rituals to absolve the suffering spirits.