Raise the Orange Lantern: Chinese Halloween Vocab

A Charlie Brown special Halloween in China is not, however the festival’s flavour is undeniably in the air.

It seems every spot in town is putting together a Halloween party of some kind or another – with one bar being ambitious enough to force their staff to come to the foreign language area of SuDa and pimp their party to the Laowai.

I love Halloween, and I’ve more than once considered dressing up and going door to door here trick or treating for a laugh. However, fear always wins out in the end and I don’t go. Fear, not of the reactions it might invoke, but rather what sort of strange dried meat candies I might bring home.

Our PumpkinHowever, on a high this week due to the visa thing, and wanting to prep Maggie for her looming submersion into Western culture, I found a “pumpkin” and we put the knife to it the other day.

It’s tiny (not much larger than a softball), it’s green, and it’s shriveling fast – but we have a Jack-o-Lantern – or 杰克哦灯笼 if you will.

Chinese Halloween Vocabulary

Wanting to brush up on some Chinese vocab to express the holiday, I searched around the net and couldn’t come up with much (Chinesepod, in rare form, let me down). So, here’s my attempt (please comment on any corrections or additions):

NOTE: Hover over the Chinese for the pīnyīn.

Halloween Vocabulary
汉字 English (in case it wasn’t clear)
万圣节 Halloween
万圣节快乐 Happy Halloween
万圣节服装 Halloween costume
南瓜 pumpkin
南瓜灯 Jack-o-Lantern (lit. pumpkin light)
糖果 candy
诡计或者糖果 Trick or Treat
吸血鬼 vampire
女巫 witch
鬼魂 ghost
僵尸 zombie
木乃伊 mummy
科学怪人 Frankenstein
狼人 werewolf / wolfman
鬼屋 haunted house
鬼故事 ghost story
蝙蝠 bat
黑猫 black cat
乌鸦 crow
蜘蛛 spider

Now go wow the local Chinese with your 吓人的话. 万圣节快乐!

7 Responses

  1. Well, it’s always bothered me a little, but I know maybe I’m being too anal, but technically “万圣节” is All Saints Day, and Halloween should be translated as “万圣节前夕” (All Saints Day eve).

  2. Hey Ryan,
    Nice list, though for witch you have used the less common Chinese word for it. Another way to say it is “Wu Po”
    Sorry I don’t know the correct characters but I often call my boss that so its well used.

  3. Yay! When my wife was here last month, we received some mooncakes from a Chinese friend. Unfortunately, she got the one with dried meat filling. I think it was dried lamb or something. After that experience, she never tasted any of the other mooncakes left. Until now we still have a few boxes here.

  4. Sadly, if the end of the sentence involves a kind of mooncake, then the start of the sentence is always “Unfortunately, …”

    Keep them boxes around, handy when ponds freeze over and you start missin’ the NHL.

  5. I think I’ll have to use some of these in class. I encouraged my class to show up in costume…but I won’t give them extra points. I wanted to dress as Elvis this year, but I’ll probably end up going as Chinese. I might even carry around my Chairman Mao doll.

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