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BEIJING, Oct. 31 (Xinhua) -- At a shopping booth in Joy City at Beijing's downtown commercial center of Xidan, Guo Jing picks up a fake-bloody mask and puts it over her head.|
"Do I look scary enough?" she asks one of her friends.
Guo has been busy costume hunting for a Halloween party on Wednesday evening, even though the 23-year-old has no idea what the festival means.
"I'd just want to relax and have fun at the party," she says.
Guo works at a publishing press in Beijing and frequent overtime has left her under a lot of stress.
Like Guo, many young Chinese celebrate Halloween as an excuse to relax from daily pressures.
In department stores, supermarkets and wholesale markets, Halloween costumes and masks are on show. At Taobao.com, China's largest online shopping platform, there are 240,000 Halloween items for sale.
The owner of an online shop called Qianqifang House Decoration on the platform has sold more than 5,000 Halloween cloaks in a month, among other items.
Cao Baoming, an expert with folk customs, says celebrating Western festivals such as Halloween has become a trend in China but that cultural connotations embedded in such events have been neglected.
Few Chinese people who celebrate Halloween know that the festival is an occasion when people stock up on food and worship the dead to survive winter. It marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter.
"Trick-or-treat is not popular in China, and young people are just making use of the occasion for parties and other recreational activities to reduce stress," he says.
Some 75 percent of Chinese workers are feeling more pressure this year than last, according to a poll conducted in September by serviced office space provider Regus.
The survey, which canvassed the opinions of over 16,000 workers worldwide, put the global average at 48 percent, concluding China held the highest rate of increasing stress levels of all the countries polled. The leading causes of stress were identified as employment, finances and customers.
While the result remains controversial in China due to Japan's greater reputation for stressed-out employees, Chinese workers are indeed experiencing more pressure from work than before, said Xiao Minzheng, director of Peking University's Center for Human Resource Development and Management Research.
The poll said stress levels rose for 45 percent of workers in Japan and 58 percent of those in Germany, which came second in Regus's rankings of increased stress.
Fu Cheng, a sociologist with Jilin Provincial Academy of Social Studies, says young people celebrating western festivals were mostly born in the 1980s. They have to face pressure from work, supporting their family, housing loans and other factors.
Apart from while-collar workers, university students also like celebrating Halloween. Wang He, a senior at the Northeast Normal University, is going to a Halloween ball to escape the pressures of job hunting.
"I want to be a vampire," says Wang, adding she wants to have fun in the limited time she has on campus.
Zheng Xiaohua, director with the Psychology Institute of Changchun City, capital of Jilin Province, says festival celebrations have become an important way for young people to release stress.
But it should not be the only way. Zheng advises people to expand their interests into other areas such as traveling, reading and walking.