The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t


“You can’t have a Halloween party. A few years ago, a girl in UB, she died. From being shocked. I think Mongolians cannot handle this holiday.”

Words that, in retrospect, sound like they came from someone who had only read about Mongolia, and never experienced it.

Mongolians have taken to Halloween. It comes naturally. Interest in the supernatural, spooks, ghouls, and all things scary definitely has its home here. In the city, many people know about and some observe Halloween. A local restaurant had a two night Halloween party, complete with themed menu items and waiters, bartenders, and waitresses in full costume.

My supervisor denied my request to have a Halloween party. Somewhat let down, I spoke to other volunteers and my counterparts, and drafted a proposal to highlight the many good things that would come from a Halloween celebration. Upon hearing the outline, my supervisor gave the green light.

Little did I know that it would give birth to three parties: Two for the 11th graders, one for the 10th graders.

My tenth grade students had two contests: Mask making and apple bobbing. The mask making was set under a time limit, and the classes had to supply their own materials. They went to the races, and the results were surprising. Everyone’s mask was gory, filled with blood, and consisting of only three colors: Black, white, and red (and a little green). My teachers said the students thought Halloween was all about gore and fright, which left me a little disappointed. There’s so much more to Halloween than scary things! I attempted to instill that into my students. I’m not sure if it was successful or not. How does one gauge that?

The gal with the droopy eyeball was decreed the winner.

The eleventh graders had a trivia contest, apple bobbing, and a piñata. I was surprised by that last one, and I figured Mongolia would be the last place I would ever see a paper-mâché piñata deployed. After the contests, there was a dance. Mongolians have a sacred tradition when it comes to social dances. I will give you the short version: Everyone stands in a massive circle. Most don’t even dance; it’s fascinating to behold. There are coordinated strikes of “woo-hoos” and jumping, with the occasional fist pump or Gangnam style.

Apples bobbed in under two seconds.

The day after, my supervisor asked me how I though the Halloween party went. I said I thought it was very successful. She agreed with me.

Looks like I may have started an annual event here.

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