Point: Halloween is better than Christmas
by Verenice Palczynski
As the pandemic has persisted, many can relate to the feeling of having to put on a mask when around extended family during the holidays. But imagine a holiday with nothing but friends, candy and where the masks are actually fun. Oh wait, we have that: Halloween.
I’ll admit, Christmas gifts are great, but with Christmas gifts comes having to smile and pretend you actually like the sweater your grandmother got you. That sweater, along with sweaters from past years, will inevitably take up drawer space and will never be worn unless grandma comes to dinner. Not to mention having to decide whether to speak up or smile and nod when drunk Uncle John starts spouting outdated views.
Halloween, with the exception of New Years, is the only major holiday that’s expected to be spent with friends rather than close relatives. If you’ve ever tried to convince your parents to let you spend Christmas with a friend instead of with family members, you know the look of disappointment that precedes a resounding “no.” As college students, we also have the pleasure of extending the fun of Halloween celebrations into a weekend-long event. Christmas is just one day, maybe two if you count Christmas Eve, but at GW, students have the wonderful habit of turning Halloween into Halloweekend. What could be better than one day of fun, than three?
Arguably the best part of Halloween is the costumes. The excitement and planning for Halloween costumes gives us all something to look forward to in the thick of fall. It also acts as a creative outlet and a chance to connect with your friends. Coordinating costumes is common and, whether it is with your group of pals or a love interest, the holiday is an excuse to get together with those you love most to brainstorm, buy, or make said costume.
The timing of Halloween also allows the holiday to serve as a much-needed stress break in the middle of fall. Students who work tirelessly throughout midterms are in need of releasing some of that stress and Halloween swoops in every year just in time to give students a weekend of fun to reward their hard work this semester.
Lastly, Halloween is far more secular than Christmas. Christmas leaves out those with faiths other than Christianity, but Halloween is fun for all.
So this Halloween, take a moment, step back and appreciate all the holiday has to offer. But only take a moment, because you’ll want to get back to having fun with your closest friends.
Counterpoint: Christmas is better than Halloween
by Sam Swinson
Winter is a dreary time. It is the season where all the plants are dead, the birds are gone and cold weather keeps us cooped up inside. But towards the end of December, there exists a solitary, shining light, near the time of the darkest, shortest day of the year: Christmas. Contrary to what the heretics that say, Christmas is not only better than Halloween, but the greatest holiday in existence.
The general tradition of joyful festivities toward the end of December has existed since prehistory as a celebration of the winter solstice. Since perhaps as early as 10,200 BC, the solstice symbolized the death and rebirth of the sun, celebrated by festivals and rituals, such as Saturnalia in Rome, Dong Zhi in China, and Yule in Norway. From the middle of winter, when the days were darkest and shortest, people instead celebrated in the knowledge that more prosperous seasons were ahead. Thus, the Christmas season is emblematic of humanity’s ability to persevere and retain optimism in difficult times.
Of course, for 2.3 billion Christians across the globe, Christmas also represents something more important than even the Winter solstice: the birth of humanity’s savior. But one does not need to be Christian to enjoy the holiday. Everyone can appreciate the magic that comes with sitting by a fire, drinking hot chocolate while observing a snowfall illuminated by streetlights and lavishly decorated trees. Christmas sets a high bar in both secular and religious aspects. And Halloween, long removed from its celtic origins as the festival of Samhain, and nowadays about one’s neighbors coming by funny costumes to eat your food and take your gifts for nothing in return, doesn’t quite clear that threshold. Besides, we already have Thanksgiving for most of that.
A quick look at the state of each holiday’s music also further establishes Christmas’s superiority over Halloween. Halloween songs, like “Thriller” and “Monster Mash” are only heard perhaps a mere two weeks before Halloween, according to Spotify data. On the other hand, Christmas songs precociously appear even before Thanksgiving, and lingers well after Christmas itself. Indeed, the prevalence of this music is emblematic of the fact that Christmas has almost entirely annexed November, existing in an armed neutrality with Thanksgiving three days of that month. Christmas joy is so infectious, that people want to celebrate it beyond its appropriate bounds.
Don’t get me wrong though. I like Halloween. I liked it enough to hide in the bushes with a fog machine and a mask and scare Trick-or-Treaters when they passed by when I was a kid. But Halloween is still but a mote of dust compared to the golden majesty of Christmas, standing apart from the monochrome background of winter to create a season of joy in the midst of winter.
Verenice Palczynski, a senior majoring in English, is an opinions writer. Sam Swinson, a junior majoring in political science, is an opinions writer.