I hope everyone had great Halloween. Dan and I sure did.
This week I taught classes about Halloween in America. We went over vocabulary and sentence structures, took a quiz that told us whether we were witches or warlocks, and reviewed with pictionary. My students pointed out that it was strange that parents would send their kids out to roam the streets on a night when evil was roaming the land, and we got into an unexpected discussion about corporate appropriation of holidays. Everyone seemed so interested by the idea of Halloween that Dan and I decided we had to host a Halloween party.
Last year’s foreign teachers had a haunted house, and the Princeton in Jishou language immersion camp had (somewhat inexplicably) thrown a Halloween dance party in August, so we thought we would throw the third kind of Halloween party: a family game night.
We grabbed candy at the store, and managed to find cloves and cinnamon for apple cider, but the pumpkin was a problem. Pumpkins taste the same here, but they only come in the form of long, tan, skinny gourds that wouldn’t be much use for carving. Solution: watermelons (thanks to the PiJ crew for the moment of insight).
We attempted the cider in a rice cooker on porridge setting, boiling blended apples, cinnamon, and cloves in water for a few hours. But we didn’t add any sugar or allspice and we didn’t have any way to filter the apple meal out, so it was more like mildly spiced apple sauce. We received mixed reviews.
On the bright side, using a watermelon for your jack-o-lantern gives you plenty of material for watermelon juice. Really, I don’t know why everyone doesn’t use watermelons for jack-o-lanterns. The green color and jagged lines make for an extra spooky appearance, and your punch practically makes itself.
I was about fifteen minutes late to my own party because I had gotten trapped on the other side of town while looking for a bike. I went down there with a student who had found a deal whereby you pay 699 RMB for a case of rice wine, then throw in an extra 1 RMB and get a bicycle ($100 total). Unfortunately, the bike, like most things here, was too small for me. We spent an hour looking for a way to extend the seat, failed, then left for home in time to hit rush hour traffic. To save time, we walked the hour and a half back to campus.
Despite berating me for being late, everyone seemed to have a ball. Some of our Senior students even brought adorable kids from their primary school internships. We played apples to apples junior (which did not work), bananagrams (which worked quite well), and mafia (which both worked and gave us an excuse to tell grisly murder stories).
What’s your favorite scary movie/book/story? For me, Twilight Zone, no question. Makes you think, scares you, and surprises too? Amazing.