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Halloween in Beijing: Pumpkins, pirates, and ... a man in a dark suit

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Courtesy of Debra Bruno

(Read caption) Shoppers walk past a Halloween display inside Raffles City Mall in Beijing.

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The leaves are starting to fall from the trees in Beijing, but there are no crunchy piles for children to jump in. In China, leaves are immediately swept up by the legions of workers who attack them with ragged-edge straw brooms that look ready for a Halloween witch.

But daily life in China’s capital city is not especially Halloween friendly, even though you’ll see occasional decorations. In a local mall, pumpkin decals cover the sliding glass doors under the heading, “Amazing Halloween.” Inside the mall is a large display with plastic pumpkins and a fake-looking haunted house façade. Meanwhile, the expat-friendly restaurants are advertising Halloween parties for children and teenagers.

But try to find some candy corn in this town. The Chinese don’t quite get our western obsession with sweets. “Fruit is Not. A. Dessert,” my daughter’s friend Emily says drily. What I wouldn’t give for those little “fun” sized boxes of malted milk balls. One mother plaintively asked on one listserv: “I am looking for a bakery that can make Halloween cupcakes and treats for my child’s school…Also, is there a store that sells bags of Halloween candy?” So far, no one has responded to her. Another friend has spent the last week or so hunting for a costume for her two-year-old. “I may just have to paint whiskers on his face and let him wear kitty ears,” she says with a sigh.

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