Recently, the Lunar New Year passed and celebrations were happening everywhere. If you aren’t familiar with the holiday, the Lunar New Year is celebrated every year to mark the beginning of the Lunar calendar. It originates from China and is celebrated widely by Asian diasporas all around the world. As an ethnic Chinese person from Malaysia, Lunar New Year has always been an important event to my family. On the eve of Lunar New Year, everyone gathers at the ancestral home to have a big traditional feast, followed by a grand ritual at midnight to commemorate the new year. The festivities typically last for a week. We usually clear our schedules for the week for visiting relatives and for going to temples to pray for the upcoming year. The Lunar New Year was always my favorite time of the year, purely because it is a time of unity, reflection, connection, and remembrance.
The Lunar New Year has looked very different the past few years. For me, the Lunar New Year lost its usual vibrant vitality and character during the pandemic, as lockdowns and social gathering restrictions discouraged visits to temples and seeing relatives and friends— but with good reason, I must add. Many of my relatives are quite a bit older and were part of the population that was highly vulnerable to the air-borne infection. We also did not have a vaccine roll-out at that time, so it was a more precarious situation to navigate. While I understood why such restrictions were put in place, it also made our Lunar New Year celebrations humbler. Streets were quiet when they normally would have abounded with cars and people on their way to different celebrations. The night sky remained calm when it would have been painted in splatters of fireworks.
2020 was the last year I had a Lunar New Year celebration with my family back home in Malaysia. I left for the U.S. the following year in 2021, right before the New Year. I stayed with my sister in Boston and we had a small Lunar New Year’s eve dinner with Korean take-out food. We called our parents and our grandmother to give well wishes, and they in turn gave us virtual red packets (packets of money traditionally given out by elders during Lunar New Year). A grand celebration that usually takes place over the course of a week was relegated to a modest dinner.
For the first time, I spent the Lunar New Year alone this year. Between finishing schoolwork, attending class, and going to work, I never really prioritized celebrating the holiday. Plans to have a dinner for Lunar New Year were mentioned in passing but never brought up again as people got busy (myself included). The dumplings that I usually make were stored for an extra day because it was time-consuming to make them. I called my parents late, with the 15-hour time difference throwing off my frame of time. My Lunar New Year celebration started and ended with a bowl of glutinous rice sesame balls in Alhambra.
Whether you like Halloween for the candy, the costumes, or the creepiness, it feels as though the entire month of October is appropriate for Halloween festivities. A great way to unwind from classes or midterms and to have fun while you’re at home is to watch movies! Here is a list of 8 classic Halloween movies to entertain you throughout the month of October. With scarier movies for those who like a thrill, and ones less scary for those who are just looking to enjoy the festive spirit of Halloween, there is sure to be a movie on the list that you enjoy! Watching any of these movies is also a great way to become familiar with American traditions surrounding Halloween.
“Casper is a kind young ghost who peacefully haunts a mansion in Maine. When specialist James Harvey arrives to communicate with Casper and his fellow spirits, he brings along his teenage daughter, Kat. Casper quickly falls in love with Kat, but their budding relationship is complicated not only by his transparent state, but also by his troublemaking apparition uncles and their mischievous antics.” (Fandango: https://www.fandango.com/casper-2591/plot-summary)
This movie is a classic kid favorite for Halloween! It’s super silly and follows the misadventures of Casper and his ghost friends. Casper is such a popular and well-known movie that people reference the character all the time! If your friend looks scared, like they have just seen a ghost, you can jokingly ask them, “Did you just see Casper?” Alternatively, if something spooky happens to you and you want to make light of the situation, you can say, “There goes Casper playing tricks on me!”
The Night Before Christmas
“The film follows the misadventures of Jack Skellington, Halloweentown’s beloved pumpkin king, who has become bored with the same annual routine of frightening people in the “real world.” When Jack accidentally stumbles on Christmastown, all bright colors and warm spirits, he gets a new lease on life — he plots to bring Christmas under his control by kidnapping Santa Claus and taking over the role. But Jack soon discovers even the best-laid plans of mice and skeleton men can go seriously awry.” (https://www.fandango.com/tim-burtons-the-nightmare-before-christmas-1993-99500/plot-summary)
This is another classic Halloween movie. Perhaps you already know who Jack Skellington is and have seen him on T-shirts or on the Internet. This movie is so popular that people also tend to watch it outside of the month of October, and it has even become somewhat of a more classic Christmas movie in recent years!
“After moving to Salem, Massachusetts, teenager Max Dennison explores an abandoned house with his sister Dani and their new friend, Allison. After dismissing a story Allison tells as superstitious, Max accidentally frees a coven of evil witches who used to live in the house. Now, with the help of a magical cat, the kids must steal the witches’ book of spells to stop them from becoming immortal.” (https://www.fandango.com/hocus-pocus-100603/plot-summary)
Almost every child who grew up watching Disney Channel has seen this movie. It was one of my favorite movies to watch on Halloween as a kid, and it still is today! It has songs, jokes, and adventure all packed into one movie. There are a few classic Halloween symbols in the movie, one of which is a black cat (thought to bring bad luck). Can you find other Halloween symbols as you watch it?
“Marnie and her siblings get a big shock when they follow their grandma home to Halloweentown – and find out they come from a family of witches. The town is the only place where supernatural beings can lead a ‘normal’ life, but trouble is looming, and on her 13th birthday Marnie not only finds she is a witch, but that she and her family are involved in a fight against the evil that is threatening to take over the world.” (https://calendar.gwu.edu/films-field-halloweentown)
This movie is another Halloween Disney Channel classic. It is more on the silly side, but that doesn’t keep it from being a enjoyable for all audience members! Witches are said to possess powers and abilities that they are unable to explain in their childhood until they find out that they are witches, and this is exactly what happens to Marnie in the movie. A great, heartwarming watch that is sure to keep you entertained.
“After transferring to a Los Angeles high school, Sarah finds that her telekinetic gift appeals to a group of three wannabe witches, who happen to be seeking a fourth member for their rituals. Bonnie, Rochelle and Nancy, like Sarah herself, all have troubled backgrounds, which combined with their nascent powers lead to dangerous consequences. When a minor spell causes a fellow student to lose her hair, the girls grow power-mad.” (https://www.fandango.com/the-craft-2494/plot-summary)
While most of these movies take place on the East Coast, The Craft is a movie that takes place in Los Angeles, so there isn’t a more perfect movie to watch if you are on or near campus on Halloween! This movie explores more witchcraft and magic than the others, but it’s still funny and follows the lives of teenage girls in high school. Don’t let the spells spook you – this movie also has a great message!
Ghostbusters (1984 version)
“After the members of a team of scientists lose their cushy positions at a university in New York City, they decide to become “ghostbusters” to wage a high-tech battle with the supernatural for money. They stumble upon a gateway to another dimension, a doorway that will release evil upon the city. The Ghostbusters must now save New York from complete destruction.” (https://www.scadshow.com/content/scad-cinema-circle-ghostbusters)
What’s more iconic than Ghostbusters? This movie is definitely a classic in American culture and will appeal to all sci-fi lovers. One of the scenes features a Twinkie, a classic American snack cake that is referenced in pop culture and movies all the time!
“A scientist builds an animated human being — the gentle Edward. The scientist dies before he can finish assembling Edward, though, leaving the young man with a freakish appearance accentuated by the scissor blades he has instead of hands. Loving suburban saleswoman Peg discovers Edward and takes him home, where he falls for Peg’s teen daughter. However, despite his kindness and artistic talent, Edward’s hands make him an outcast.” (https://www.fandango.com/edward-scissorhands-2668/plot-summary)
If you love Johnny Depp, chances are you might have already seen this movie. If you haven’t seen it yet, you are in for a treat! Much like the famous Halloween monster Frankenstein, Edward Scissorhands is built in a laboratory, but he experiences human emotions and forms relationships with people around him. This movie is great for those who want a romantic movie with a Halloween twist!