Plan a Halloween Party With Asian Flair

Standing in a satin gown, apple green jade decorates her wrists, ears and hair, several gold rings glimmer on her left hand...not the typical Halloween Pirate Costume you might imagine, but according to Aleko E. Lilius author of I sailed with Chinese Pirates, it would be historically correct for the Queen of the Macau Pirates Lai Choi San.
Her name translates to "Mountain of Wealth". She had inherited the business from her father, who had died in battle. He had owned seven armored junks when he died, in time Lai Choi San added five more to her fleet. She was actually given some refuge by the authorities and considered as Inspector, protecting the fishing fleets and doing general cleanup of the South China Sea.
Lai Choi San was considered by many to be ruthless, perhaps even cruel, yet many thought of her as a Chinese Robin Hood. She was also one of the wealthiest pirates along the China Coast in the 1920s.
Many believe that the character Missee Lee found in the Arthur Ransome novel Swallows and Amazons is an adaptation of this pirate Queen. Milton Caniff, author of Terry and the Pirates may have used Lai Choi San as inspiration for The Dragon Lady.
We can use her as inspiration for our Halloween Party
Invitations can be made to look like a piece of a treasure map. Crumpling up a large sheet of paper and aging it with coffee or tea will give a realistic effect. Using the keywords 'make a treasure map' query an Internet search for ideas and directions. Send separate pieces of the map to your guests, along with the time, date, and directions to your secret location. Request that that they bring the invitation along with tribute to the Queen of the Pirates. In keeping with the Lai Choi San /Chinese Robin Hood legend, request that tribute be paid in the form of a nonperishable food item, which you could later donate to a food bank or church.
Decorations can be simple or elaborate. Halloween lights, Christmas lights, Chinese lanterns, Asian wall hangings, plastic pirate sabers, can create a festive yet spooky atmosphere. Children could draw or paint pictures of Chinese Junks or Chinese symbols that could decorate the walls. Music could be added if you wished, perhaps the sound of beating drums or some new age music could be used.
Costumes need not cost an arm or a leg, or bleed the pocket dry. Ha! Asian styled clothing is quite fashionable today, and if used as a costume can be economically frugal, considering it could be worn numerous times throughout the year. The Lai Choi San costume could be an Asian inspired robe, a traditional Qi Pao or Cheongsam or Chinese halter or blouse with costume jewelry, pearls or jade. The man of the house could be dressed as the Captain of a freighter. Dressed in white shirt, dark pants and maybe a captains hat or knitted hat, adding a fake beard or mustache, perhaps an eye patch could complete the look for this character.
Guests or children could wear a simple black T-shirt and a red bandana, and perhaps a toy cutlass could hang from their side or back.
Refreshments: Hot or cold tea, cider, or fruit punch along with Asian appetizers could be served. A melon could be quartered (ha!) to resemble a Chinese Junk, egg rolls could be 'ships guns', and melon balls could be 'shot'. Imagination is key here.
Entertainment: Stories and songs could be revised with an Asian theme, Pin the Sail on the Chinese Junk could be played, and if weather permits a treasure hunt, using the pieces of map sent to the guests. In true pirate code the treasure would be divided between the guests.
Piracy on the High Seas continues to be an ongoing menace to the safety of crew members and maritime operations, and should certainly be considered as an ugly growth to be cut away by a social cutlass. However, Pirates will always be somewhat romanticized by song and story. Pirates and treasure will always be part of Halloween