Claire Su

An illustration of the Halloween and Thanksgiving holidays. Aquila reporters Margaret Cartee and Angelina Burrows debate which holiday reigns superior.

Perspectives: Fall-ing for fall holidays

November 10, 2022

Halloween: The pump-king of holidays

Cotton-fiber cobwebs extend from window to window, speckled with miniature plastic spiders. A larger, fuzzier spider looms above passing students, hanging off the Harker library entrance and contributing to the spooky sensations slowly building within the campus in anticipation for the best holiday of the year: Halloween.

Though many holidays such as Christmas or Thanksgiving boast more extravagant decorations or traditions, Halloween reigns superior due to its unrivaled element of fun and its celebration of all things ghastly and grim, thus separating itself from every other holiday.

One staple tradition of Halloween is dressing up in costumes, from eerie monsters like witches and vampires to beloved characters or even household items. The amount of variety and creativity available in buying or creating costumes makes dressing up a major highlight of the holiday and offers a sense of escapism in disguising one’s identity and pretending to be someone or something else for a day. 

Additionally, the decorations and traditions surrounding Halloween make for frightening fun, a feeling very distinct from the atmospheres of other hackneyed holidays. Watching horror movies, telling ghost stories and visiting haunted houses all contribute to the uniqueness of Halloween. Whereas a holiday like Thanksgiving demands a certain air of seriousness, Halloween is a holiday meant solely for enjoyment and entertainment.

Halloween reigns superior due to its unrivaled element of fun and its celebration of all things ghastly and grim, thus separating itself from every other holiday.

And by far, the best part of Halloween is the candy. Though trick-or-treating may be limited to younger children, the variety of candy on sale during the Halloween season far surpasses the variety at any other times of year. Despite the fact that my memories of trick-or-treating as a lower schooler are fading year by year, I can always look to the sentimental taste of Nerds or Twix to remind myself of the experience — the giddy rush of excitement I got when dumping out my bag of treats, the smiling jack-o-lantern design of my fraying felt tote bag matching my glee. I remember carefully arranging each pack of candy in rainbow order and finally gazing upon the magical, colorful array of sugar with eager eyes. That indescribable feeling of unconstrained joy has stuck with me, past all the platitudes of past Christmases and Thanksgivings. Although Thanksgiving does help families express gratitude, Halloween allows time for us to let loose, build those special trick-or-treating moments and escape from reality for even just one night. 

But Halloween has delightful, yet frightful, treats other than candy. Caramel “poison” apples, mummified hot dogs, tangerines made to look like pumpkins or plastic gloves filled with kettle corn — the possibilities of what can be changed into spooky, Halloween-inspired food are endless, and making these snacks with a creepy twist only makes them taste better.

The candy, the spookiness and the pure fun are timeless aspects of Halloween; they have cemented themselves as integral parts of many of our childhoods. Halloween appeals to all ages; it fills a pumpkin-sized hole in our hearts that Thanksgiving just doesn’t have the nostalgia or lightheartedness to match.

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Thanksgiving: Tur-key to my heart

The night of November 24, an array of various dishes will fill my entire table. Each person will be diving into as many plates as they can reach from my grandmother’s salad to the chicken adobo my mother spent hours making. Our Thanksgiving dinner is a fusion of two cultures, vastly different cuisines, yet cohesively delicious. With my chopsticks on one side and my fork on the other, I jump right in.

Being half asian and half white, typically I’m either enjoying my mother’s homemade hot pot or ordering an animal style cheeseburger from In n Out. Either way, both cultures are rarely represented on the same table. Thanksgiving’s versatility creates a place for both pieces of my cultural identity to blend together, creating a traditional feast that welcomes both sides of my family’s customs. 

From being surrounded by the familiar faces of friends and family filling their stomachs with flavorful food, to competing for the last green bean on the plate, Thanksgiving creates an experience like no other. While other holidays, like Halloween, are more spirited in their celebration, Thanksgiving promotes a sense of connection that other holidays often cannot easily emulate. Over the years, Thanksgiving has grown into a holiday celebrating appreciation and gratitude, and the act of bonding over a plate of food, while simple, creates a moment to relate to one another. For me, Thanksgiving is the best holiday — not only for its lasting memories but also for the ideal it signifies. 

As the baby at the table, sometimes it can be intimidating to start conversations with my older family members. However, after a bit of time the tension eases away and conversation can become more natural. Last year in particular, having not even finished freshman year, I was inexperienced in the ways of high school. My cousins, being seasoned veterans, took the opportunity to give me some advice. From choosing the best classes, to properly managing my time, our Thanksgiving feast became an opportunity for them to share their expertise, and allowed us to bond over our school experiences.

While other holidays are more spirited in their celebration, Thanksgiving promotes a sense of connection that other holidays can never hope to emulate.

As a student, it is easy to get lost in the pressure of school. Like many, I have succumbed to procrastination and been forced to seclude myself in my room, zealously cramming and studying for a test the next day, or spending the last bit of energy I have finishing an essay due that night. The chaotic scrambling of trying to force out as many ideas into the paper as possible sharply contrasts the warm and inviting atmosphere at the dinner table. The tension and stress built up by school are finally released as I get a moment of relaxation in the comfort of my family’s presence. 

However, catching up with family is not the only notable trait of Thanksgiving. The mouth-watering platters of foods lined across the table create a major part of the Thanksgiving experience. The feeling of connecting with my relatives under the smell of perfectly seasoned chicken adobo and stuffed turkey creates a blissful satisfaction that cannot be recreated anywhere else. The appetizing aroma of the entrees are a product of my mother’s tireless work when preparing the food. Hours before anyone arrives my mother carefully dices the carrots, boils the eggs, meticulously measures the brown and white rice, and chooses the perfect spices to match the pork. Knowing that behind each ingredient was a series of calculated decisions on what best seasoning to use, or how long to air fry the drumsticks, the day becomes even more special.

While Halloween has the reputation of being one of the most festive holidays, Thanksgiving is unmatched in its ability to bring people together through its main principles of gratitude and appreciation.

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