The Halloween season is almost upon us again. It’s interesting as you study cultures around the world how different things are celebrated. In traditional Chinese cultures, costumes are used in many rituals, plays, and dances. It’s not uncommon to see the two-man dragon dance during the open ceremony of a business or around New Year’s. Likewise, you’ll find a rich history of costumes used in various opera productions, such as the Monkey King and his Pig Lord sidekick.
Chinese costumes can also be worn during days that signify happiness and festivity, like Halloween. Be a Chinese princess or a Chinese girl-warrior by wearing Chinese dresses. Boys can be Bruce Lee, the Monkey King, or be an animal in the Zodiac.
The Chinese national costume is pretty and festive used on its own. However, for those who want to celebrate in their favorite Chinese story personalities, handy things around the house can be added to the basic Chinese costume.
1. Chinese Dress—Qi Pao
Qi Pao: this Chinese Dress is elegant and festive in its own right. Qi Pao means banner dress when translated. It usually has a high neck and slits on the sides. Designs can vary to flatter the woman’s good features and hide the less than perfect features. Qi Pao for young girls are available in different colors and materials. For active young girls, a Qi Pao dress-pants is a good idea.
2. Chinese pants set for boys
For boys, the traditional costume pants set is a must-have set. The top has a mandarin collar with long sleeves. Pants are loose and flowing. Some costume sets include hats with pigtails or hoods.
It is a good idea to gather the following from around the house before starting to mix and match.
Getting sequined Chinese slippers or kung fu shoes from a nearby department store can be a good idea. It can be worn several times if you like wearing costumes for every event (or regularly, since they are comfortable). These can also be ordered online.
Mom’s silk skirts in shiny fabrics or dad’s silk robes may also be looted. If your family has wigs lying around the house, keep those. It may turn out useful for completing your desired look. Beautiful fabrics, scarves, bead necklaces, even table runners can be added to your collection of materials. Craft flowers, satin ribbons can also be added to the hair.
Do this with:
- Girl’s empire cut long dress/ other long dresses in plain design.
- A girl’s sleeveless long dress in shiny fabric and plain design can also be used as a base garment when dressing up as a Chinese princess. An empire cut spaghetti strap will also do nicely. This can be topped over by a long robe/ blouse with butterfly sleeves (These tunic blouses were in fashion three or four years ago so Mom may still have one in her closet.)
- Hair can be fixed in a double bun, one on each side of the head, or let some of the hair flow. Beads can also be strung through the hair. Sashes can be tied around the waist, or can be used as hang down designs for the belt.
2. Lady White Snake
Similar to the Chinese Princess, although wear a white costume. May also bring a toy snake and put a pillow by the tummy to look pregnant.
3. Chinese Girl-Warrior
Like Mulan or Yu Shu Lien/ Jen Yu in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Do this with:
- Cheongsam dress-pants set
- Toy Sword or toy bows and arrows
- Kungfu shoes/ other shoes
Wear the pants set and shoes, sling over the toy weapons and you’re done. Mom may also fix the Warrior’s hair into a neat hairstyle fit for battle.
4. Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee is one of my favorites to see. Strong, mysterious, and handsome—what girl wouldn’t swoon for this guy? A costume to look like him is also quite easy to recreate. The easiest version of him is to go topless with a pair of black Kung Fu pants and Kung Fu shoes (or if those are hard to get, black wrestling shoes and black sweat pants).
But some of us aren’t fortunate enough to live in a warm environment, so another option is Bruce Lee in a yellow and black sweat suit as he wore in Game of Death. Or you could go for the Kato look from his appearance in the TV show.
5. Monkey King
Do this with:
- Boys Traditional Black Kung Fu pants set
- Monkey mask or face crayons
- Soft boot/ kung fu shoes/ other shoes
- Scarf or cape
- Assorted armor pieces, homemade or bought in toy stores : breastplate, shoulder guards, arm guards
Wear the costume and shoes. Attach the armor accessories and cape. Wear the mask, or if there are none, mom can use face crayons to simulate the hairy face of Monkey. Bring the stick (Ruyi) before heading out the door.
6. Zodiac animal
See if you have any animal mask lying around the house that is any one of the twelve zodiac animals.
Wear your national Chinese costume and put on your mask. For this year 2009, it would be nice to wear an ox mask with your Chinese costume. Have fun; remember to bring out these Chinese costumes each time to spread more cheer for every occasion!