I recently had a random interesting conversation about American holidays with my mom. She was born in Taiwan, raised there, and didn’t immigrate out to America until she was about 30 years old. She told me that out of all the American holidays, she loves Halloween the most.
I was really puzzled by this because she doesn’t really like to eat candy or dress up in costume all that much. She explained to me it was because she was really charmed by how creative Americans get with Halloween and how Americans are able to take everything that is scary and spooky and turn it into cute and fun.
Also, generally, in Chinese and Taiwanese culture, talking about death is taboo. For example, when I had a booth at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, they gave me a banner to take home from my booth, and it was white with a black border. That means nothing in America, but for Chinese and Taiwanese, that color scheme is associated with funerals and death, and when I put up the banner in my office, one parent was like “Hmm, maybe not a great idea since it looks like a funeral banner.” It’s like bad luck, like talking about death or representing death in any way would bring it to you and yours.
So for my mom, she was quite tickled by the fact that when Halloween came around, everyone would dress up like ghosts and demons or even “play dead”, which would be really tsk-ed at in Taiwan. She loved the haunted houses, and she said she cracked up particularly when one family had graves lining their front lawn with the names of each family member on tombstones. From her cultural perspective, it was so taboo and unlucky but her neighbors were reveling in it.
Personally, I’ve always enjoyed Halloween, but Christmas is still my favorite holiday.