Halloween in Mongolia?

October 31st, 2018 (Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia)


Yes, the Halloween tradition is taking root in Mongolia of all places! In my first visits to Mongolia between 2010 and 2012 I rarely saw any Halloween costumes or decorations, but as of the past couple years that appears to have changed. I first noticed it in 2016 and 2017...



And this year is no exception, with the local E-mart having expanded their costume selection and adding more decorations...



Just off to the right edge of the photo above they even had a Halloween-themed photo cutout board where one can put their face through to take pictures. The irony is that E-mart (and most stores here in Ulaanbaatar I've been in) doesn't like or allow customers to take photos inside the store... they wouldn't even let me take a picture of a Christmas tree in the store last year (I had to be sneaky to take this and the first two pictures from last year, which is why the quality isn't great). So given there's no pictures allowed, who's supposed to use the cutout boards?!? :P



This year the Shangri-La Shopping Center in Ulaanbaatar even had some Halloween festivities last weekend for the kiddies, with decorations throughout the mall...


(My daughter would have LOVED it if I could have taken one of these big boys home...)


... as well as actors in full costume wandering through the mall, giving adults opportunities for photos and some younger kids a big fright.


(American kids tend to be jaded and unimpressed with such costumes, but some of the Mongolian kids there were FREAKED OUT...)


Mongolia's popular culture seems to be inundated with American pop culture and traditions, and Halloween seems to be just another example. Even my daughter's kindergarten had a Halloween costume day! Interestingly enough, a few have adopted another time-honored American tradition... denouncing Halloween as a day of evil. Some government official in charge of the public schools made a statement telling Mongolian children not to celebrate Halloween because it's a 'day of ghosts' or something like that (my Mongolian is terrible but I think that was the gist of it). The more things change, the more they stay the same, huh? ;)



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© 2017 Nicholas Berget