As Koreans recently celebrated the harvest festival holiday, Chuseok, I asked many of my students how they feel the celebration of this special day has been changing over time. I developed an impression that the future of this very Korean holiday is losing its value and is becoming more of an expected time off work to take a rest or take a trip. While most people confirmed they paid respect to ancestors at their graves, many also admitted that they don’t expect to do it in the future when they are older, and certainly don’t expect the next generation to continue this tradition.
While every cultural festivity changes as societies change, I think it is important to celebrate something. To me, the biggest holidays of the year are Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Halloween. Christmas and Thanksgiving are both for time with the family, and Halloween is a time I enjoy for personal reasons. Some holidays stem from religious origins, such as Christmas, and others from cultural, like Thanksgiving, while others may be a blend of both, Halloween. The reasons for various festivals can be debated in different cultures, for example, some Americans are starting to boycott the celebration of Thanksgiving because it is believed by them to be based on a false portrayal of history in which the United States refuses to remember and recognize the atrocities caused to the native people living in the land before European settlers came, while honoring controversial figures like Christopher Columbus. While I sympathize with the cause and am even an insignificant portion Native American myself, I do enjoy me some turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, and football in November. To me, Thanksgiving is about my family that is alive today and being thankful for the deceased generation that helped get us where we are while celebrating things “American.”
My favorite holiday, however, is Halloween. When I was growing up, I had some friends that weren’t allowed to celebrate this ghoulish holiday because their parents were very religious and thought it was unholy, though it is based on the Christian feast celebrating martyrs and saints. They feel that it was paganised (adapted with pagan rituals) and thus in its modern celebration is sinful, what with it’s ‘trick-or-treating,’ parties, and costumes ranging from slutty vampires to slasher nuns. But I disagree. Since I was young, autumn has been my favorite season with the cool weather and the changing colors of the leaves, and jack-o-lanterns decorating porches along with spooky cobwebs and other eerie decorations put out to set the darkly festive mood. Halloween has a real and genuine vibe where I come from, and it’s something that can be celebrated in many different ways whether you’re a kid trick-or-treating, a college student partying in a costume, or an elderly person at home watching scary movies and passing out candy.
In my opinion, celebrating holidays as a culture is important. It helps mark the passing of time and stirs up the monotony of everyday life.
Luke Hanson -
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