The Fall holidays of North America

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By Lucy Rawlings, Travel Deputy Editor

The Croft Magazine // Fall is a magical season in North America. There's Halloween and two Thanksgivings... yes, Canada has one too!

It’s Spooky Season! As one of the most highly anticipated holidays of the year, Halloween 2021 is set to be a big one. With last year’s celebrations being somewhat thwarted, most of us are excited once again to be getting dressed up for parties and trick-or-treating. Although most students in the UK see Halloween as an excuse to host an event loosely tied to the holiday, in the US things are taken much more seriously. Despite its Celtic roots, this now beloved holiday, brought by the Irish and the Scots immigrants during the 1840s, has become an almost completely secularised festival. It has also become highly commercialised. In 2020, Americans spent 8.8 billion dollars on Halloween preparations.

But that’s the point. In America, Halloween isn’t for just one night. Planning takes place months in advance, and people even begin decorating their houses as early as late September. According to a YouGov survey of 1,500 American adults, 16 per cent said it was alright to put decorations out between Labor Day (6th September) and 30thSeptember.  This is a small percentage of the group, but 47 per cent said they’d be getting out the carved pumpkins and Halloween wreaths between 1st and 15th October. Of course, this seems excessive, but I guess it’s what makes the event so much more of an event.

Federal Hall, New York City | Epigram / Xander Brett

The obvious things, like having sufficient candy for trick-or-treaters and making sure the house looks adequately spooky are important for a successful Halloween, but barrels for apple bobbing, pumpkins galore to make the most impressive jack-o-lantern, and a good stock of scary films are standard too. The annual trip to the pumpkin patch is a big deal for Americans. It provides the opportunity to choose from the finest selection of pumpkins ready for carving. Picking the correct candy (and enough of it) is also vital, as it’s likely the whole neighbourhood will be visiting. In the UK trick-or-treating is generally accepted, but in the US it’s near-enough essential that each and every house in the neighbourhood takes part.

Another holiday that falls around, well, Fall, is Canadian Thanksgiving. Different from its American cousin, the Canadian version is celebrated on the second Monday in October and is an opportunity to acknowledge the harvest and other blessings of the last year.  There’s not much to differentiate between the two versions (similar food, a similar way of celebrating and the same significance), but it must be noted that the main difference is timing. Because Canada is further north, the harvest begins much earlier. It’s generally a time to spend with family, relax and give thanks for the bountiful year that has just passed, celebrated by eating delicious food and enjoying a break from work. Canadian Thanksgiving is low key in comparison to the American version… there’s no one who can compete with the USA when it comes to public holidays.

Featured Image: Epigram / Xander Brett

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