Contemplating Culture

The idea of identity keeps arising these days.  Usually when themes like this keep popping up, I believe it is a signal to pay attention.

Lately I have been in utter surprise over celebrating Halloween at school.  First of all, I feel like Halloween is such a western world, particularly American, celebration.  It seems so absolutely out of place in China. Not only in my international school, which has maybe a handful of students who may celebrate this festival in their home cultures, but in the whole of China.  Wherever I go, I see Halloween stuff. I just can’t believe it.  Of course a part of me is thrilled to connect to this aspect of my culture, but then a part of me feels disconcerted, wondering if this holiday is imposing the cultural fabric of the Chinese people, let alone the Korean, German, French, and Spanish students at school.

So here I am, trying to process this–is it a good thing or a bad thing?  For my daughter, I am excited to have her celebrate it because I remember enjoying dressing up and eating candy during Halloween; it was also a time to have a light hearted poke at the fear of death and be curious about my spiritual nature.  So, indeed, I hope Hannah has fun with this.

Of course the deeper quandary is whose holiday is it anyway?  Our holidays usually represent our culture, so it seems so odd to have this holiday celebrated when it seems so out of sorts for this part of the world.


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