Halloween highlights

Halloween highlights

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October 31 has been an important date for centuries, but for many young people it's all about staying up late and eating sweets

by Jovel Lam Tsz-wing, Ada Shum Yan-lui of Heep Yunn School
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and Yoyo Cheung Ka-yau of Wa Ying College
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Halloween - an ancient Celtic and early Christian festival which is especially popular in the United States - is just around the corner. Its early significance as a festival marking the end of summer and a brief window between the worlds of the living and the dead is long lost, but that does not make it any less spooky.

Today, people worldwide mark October 31 by dressing up as monsters and throwing parties, and going on 'trick or treat' missions to load up on goodies.

'Many people at school wear horrible masks, and scare me,' says Andy Shum Man-lok, a Primary Six student at Kowloon Tong Government Primary School who says he finds the festival frightening.

But not everyone finds Halloween frightening. For many young people, Halloween is a day for sweet treats and late-night fun.

'I think Halloween is a wonderful festival,' says Ryan Fong, a Form Six student at Tang King Po School.

'My best friends and I went to the Ocean Park Halloween Bash last year. It was really cool! My religious studies teacher says Halloween is a day for evil, but I don't care. The important thing is that we can stay out late. Who cares about other meanings?'

Ryan's opinions reflect what many young Hongkongers feel. The history and significance of the festival are less relevant than the facts there are great events at theme parks and most parents let their children stay up late.

Perhaps surprisingly, some parents also believe Halloween has many benefits.

'I think Halloween offers my child a good chance to improve her social skills by meeting neighbours and exchanging sweets,' says Katy Lam Kwong Pik-wan, who has a 14-year-old daughter.

'It can make children feel more confident when communicating with strangers. And it also helps to improve our own relationships with our neighbours.'

Clearly people have different views on the benefits of this frightening festival. But perhaps the ones who benefit most are businesses. Despite this year's economic downturn, Americans alone are expected to spend US$4.75 billion (HK$36.8 billion) on costumes, parties and sweets.

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