The American fall time consists of many traditions and holidays, and those who are not familiar with them may find the traditions amusing and sometimes odd. This time of year is heavily centered around food, with the most important item being the pumpkin. Pumpkins play a role in Thanksgiving, Halloween and essential fall activities like going to a pumpkin patch. So, it is no surprise that pumpkin spice has become an essential part of the season. I always feel more festive and start to get into the fall mood when I see all of the seasonal pumpkin-flavored items available.
Pumpkin spice products are continuing to spread and major brands continue to introduce new pumpkin fused items for the fall time. The limited availability of the flavor has been a key selling point for the products. Some of the most popular items include candles, soap, cookies, drinks, baked goods, snacks, and even pet products. The most quintessential pumpkin spice item to try is most definitely the pumpkin spice latte. Social media, especially Instagram, has created a large following and obsession for pumpkin spice latte fans of all ages.
It is already a shock to many non Americans how many different products that feature pumpkins are available, so it is even more surprising when people find out that pumpkin flavored coffee is such a sought after trend. Pumpkin spice lattes have become quite the commodity and bring in huge profits for coffee companies. Pumpkin spice lattes are typically made from milk, pumpkin puree or flavoring, pumpkin spice seasoning, a sweetener, and coffee.
Starbucks is the main party responsible for starting the pumpkin spice latte craze and turning the name of their drink into an acronym and widespread hashtag (PSL). Since Starbucks has launched their drink, over 200 million drinks have been sold and it has quickly become their most popular beverage. Now many other coffee chains offer their own versions of pumpkin spice coffees. Starbucks starts to offer the PSL in the beginning of September and it is only available “while supplies last”. This period is usually right up until when they bring back their holiday drinks.
Pumpkin spice no longer just creates a flavorful sensation but it also creates an emotional one. The widely loved trend admired by many Americans is slowly starting to spread, but understandably has not been picked up as quickly in foreign markets. There is no better place to try pumpkin spice food than in America as a way to celebrate the beginning of the fall holidays. Trying out and tasting this fall trend is the best way to understand the American obsession, and might just help you feel some of the holiday spirit.
Emiko is a recent graduate from the Sol Price School of Public Policy and Marshall School of Business. She was born and raised in the Bay Area, California up until high school, when she moved to Switzerland and then France. Emiko lived in Switzerland and Germany all throughout high school and then studied abroad her first year of university in Paris. While living abroad, she was involved with Model United Nations and was a figure skating coach for international students and local students looking to work on their English. She loves meeting new people, traveling, dancing, figure skating and entrepreneurship.
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!
‘Tis the season of pumpkin spice lattes, snuggling up on your couch, and holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving. Fall is a time to breathe in the crisp cool weather, break out your sweaters and scarves, and of course eat everything pumpkin. Here are some of my favorite fall traditions.
Visit a Pumpkin Patch
One of my favorite traditions is going to local pumpkin patches with my family or friends and picking out pumpkins to bring home and decorate. Most pumpkin patches sell things like hot apple cider and some even have small rides!
Carve a Pumpkin
Once you’ve selected your pumpkin, you get to carve it up and decorate it! You can find simple ideas online and most stores sell relatively inexpensive pumpkin carving tools! Here’s an example of the pumpkin that I carved last year!
Indulge in Pumpkin Spice Latte Everything
When I was younger, the most memorable food of the season was pumpkin pie and candy corn but now that PSL (pumpkin spice lattes) have taken over, there is a whole world of pumpkin spice flavored things that are full of festive flavor.
Enjoy the Warmth of Bonfires
The best part of any bonfire is S’MORES!! It you’re like me and love late night sweets then this is the fall tradition for you. A s’more is a toasted marshmallow sandwiched between Graham crackers and chocolate. This sugary concoction is best served over an open flame but if you live in an apartment there are also microwave and oven safe variations.
Binge with Movie Marathons
“Halloween Town”, “Hocus Pocus”, and “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” are my absolute favorite fall movies and I definitely recommend watching them to get into the Halloween spirit. Fall weather tends to be chilly so a great way to embrace the season is to cuddle up on the sofa with a mug of hot apple cider and marathon a bunch of feel good movies. A popular alternative movie night is to binge watch horror movies (but I am a scaredy cat and I do not enjoy scary movies!)
Go Fake Camping
This is one of my favorite childhood memories. My friends and I always loved the idea of camping but didn’t love the idea of bugs, a lack of restrooms, and long drives so we would set up a tent in the living room or backyard. We would bring in snacks and sleeping bags and pretend that we were in the mountains exploring the great outdoors.
Bake Cookie and other Fall Treats
There’s nothing more cozy than a warm oven wafting the smell of fresh baked goods. The oven warms a chilly house and the baked goods make the room smell amazing. PLUS, you get fun treats to share (or you can eat them all yourself!)
Soak in the Season at Disneyland
As an avid Disney fan, one of my favorite things is watching the park transform each season. The fall season brings out pumpkin desserts and spooky decorations!
I hope you have an amazing fall season and that you get to make memories that turn into traditions!
Brianna is a first year graduate student at the Keck School of Medicine studying Global Medicine. She is Chinese, British and Irish and currently lives and studies at the HSC (health science campus). Born and raised in Southern California, Brianna received her bachelor’s degree in biological sciences and medical anthropology. Brianna is passionate about research and volunteering and loves trying new things. In her free time she enjoys reading, dancing, trying new foods, and traveling! Brianna was a resident adviser in a community that had international housing and her family hosts international high school students!
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