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  • Writer's pictureELLIE VOELKERDING '25 & JENNA UTERSTAEDT '25

Jenna & Ellie Get Jolly

Halloween: candy, costumes, creepiness. Thanksgiving: food, festivities, family. Christmas: presents, parties, poinsettias. With so many thrilling holidays happening during the last three months of the year, some celebrations and traditions are prone to overlap. One annual holiday controversy is whether to listen to Christmas music before or after Thanksgiving. We are Jenna Uterstaedt and Ellie Voelkerding, and we are back to talk about this well known debate, along with other seasonal themed topics.

Ellie: Thanksgiving is a remarkable holiday that tends to be overlooked. This is credited to a sizable amount of the American population listening to Christmas music immediately after Halloween ends. Some radio stations, including Star 93.3 and Warm 98.5, begin to play Christmas music on November 1st. I believe that Christmas should begin to be celebrated the day after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday, so that Thanksgiving receives the recognition it deserves. Typically people do not have as large Thanksgiving celebrations as they do Christmas celebrations. Christmas is often looked at as a more important holiday than Thanksgiving due to the gifts and the roots in Christianity. I love Christmas music, and it gets me into the holiday spirit. However, when I begin to listen to Christmas music before Thanksgiving, by the time Christmas finally rolls around, I am so tired of Christmas that I do not recognize the fullness of the holiday. If I listen to Christmas music just a little too early, I can turn into the Grinch. Christmas is one of my favorite holidays that I love, but I still like to celebrate Thanksgiving first, and not let the holidays overlap.

Jenna: I do agree that Thanksgiving can seem to be overshadowed by the distinct presence of Christmas tunes, but in a way, it also seems to be a joyful part of the holiday season celebration. Christmas isn’t just a holiday, it's a state of mind. The season of giving and joy makes every day seem easier and lifts many people's spirits. Maddie Rueve ’25 adds, “I’m so anxious for Christmas to begin that I need to get in the holiday spirit early. The holiday season brings joy to me and my family and it makes me feel connected with others.” Since Thanksgiving is part of the line of holidays that happen in the late fall and early winter, it should have the spunk and zest that the rest of the holidays carry with seasonal songs. And it so happens Christmas carries with it a variety of songs to choose from. I mean how many Thanksgiving songs have you heard?

Ellie: Christmas music is a large part of the holiday, so it makes sense that there are so many wonderful Christmas songs. Some of my favorite Christmas songs are the remakes of old classics to a more modern tune and anything by Pentatonix. These songs include “Feliz Navidad” by José Feliciano, “Where Are You Christmas?” by Pentatonix, “Last Christmas” by Taylor Swift, and “Little Drummer Boy” by Carrie Underwood. Christmas is a time to spend with family members. I believe that Christmas music is a big part of bringing families and friends together during this time of year by singing along to classic holiday songs. What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?

Jenna: Those are some really good picks, I especially love “Last Christmas” by Taylor Swift. One trend that I have noticed in my favorite songs is that they all bring people together. Maria Klare ‘24 told me, “My favorite Christmas song is ‘Sing Hosanna, Hallelujah’ because Christmas carolers come to my Nana’s house every year and they sing that song. While they sing , everyone dances, sings, and claps. It’s so fun because there are 70 of us singing together in one big room.” Whether at a pep rally or family gathering, people would drop whatever they were doing and start to hum or sing along. Tunes like these are well known and seem to be played on almost every radio station. This includes songs like “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee, “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” by The Jackson 5, and of course the well known “All I Want For Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey. Other, more modern songs that I would recommend would be “I’ll Be Home” by Meghan Trainor and "Baby It's Cold Outside" by Idina Menzel and Michael Bublé. Honestly, every Christmas song brings something to the table and I love how different artists contribute to the holiday spirit. Another seasonal thing that I enjoy are the winter flavors for drinks like coffee and hot chocolate. What's your favorite holiday drink, Ellie?

Ellie: Walking inside after being outside in the cold, feeling the burst of warm air, and a hot chocolate waiting for you is an incredible feeling. That is a reason why I love hot chocolate during the winter months. When I am cold, I want to snuggle up in a blanket with a nice warm drink in my hand. Mary Wurzbacher ‘23 states, “My favorite is just basic hot chocolate with whipped cream because it reminds me of snow days when I was little and it's very nostalgic.” Hot chocolate, coffee, and tea are good options, but there are so many flavors to choose from. My favorite hot chocolate flavors are peppermint and the classic hot chocolate with mini marshmallows. Coffee is the perfect mixture of sweet and bitter, so it is very hard to maintain that taste when adding holiday flavors. A good Christmas drink is the Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks. I know many people don’t like coffee or hot chocolate, and tea is another amazing option for a nice warm drink on a freezing winter day. Some preferable tea flavors include cinnamon, peppermint, apple spice, and caramel. Do you have any marvelous holiday drinks that you enjoy?

Jenna: Even though they sell it year-round I love a good chai tea latte. It has so many flavors and spices that have a holiday feel. I also love white hot chocolate. Most people I meet have never had it and I would definitely recommend it. It's not too sweet, and is creamy and silky. At most coffee shops it comes in a peppermint flavor and a toasted style. I agree that flavors like cinnamon and peppermint are very delicious and festive. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with seasonal drinks. Like Ellie previously said, if you don’t like coffee there are many alternate options. One newer drink that I enjoy is the Smoothie King dark chocolate strawberry smoothie. It's their holiday special, and they did a great job of turning a smoothie into a winter time treat. If you want seasonal flavors, without coffee, then you might enjoy Starbucks’ steamed apple juice. It has a fall tone and gives off the right amount of “most wonderful time of the year” vibes. Maybe a holiday drink will be a new tradition for you and your family. Ellie, what are some traditions your family carries out every year during this festive time?

Ellie: My family loves Christmas. We have so many traditions with my immediate and extended family. One of my favorite traditions is baking cookies with my mom’s side of the family. We all get together, each family with a new recipe and some of the favorites from the previous years. We bring all the ingredients and have fun getting our hands dirty while baking. I spoke to my sister, Emma Voelkerding ‘22, about her favorite family Christmas traditions. Her favorite Christmas traditions are very similar to my own. “My favorite tradition is cookie baking with my mom’s side because we all get to bring our own recipes, but we make the cookies all together. At the end of the night, we get to pick which cookies we bring home to share with our loved ones. This reminds me of the greatness of unity and coming together as a family to make something wonderful.” Two of my favorite annual family traditions take place on Christmas morning. The first is that we have an ornament called the Christmas Pickle. My parents hide the Christmas Pickle, and my sisters and I try to find it. The legend is that whoever finds the pickle will have a lucky year. After that, my grandparents come over and we have a big brunch, go to church, and open our gifts. Christmas is a great time to spend with family, and our family enjoys playing lots of fun games and Secret Santa with our cousins at Christmas parties. Spending time with my extended family is an occasion that generally only occurs around big holidays and birthdays, so seeing my cousins, aunts, and uncles makes Christmas even more special than it already is.

Jenna: Those experiences sound like a lot of fun! I love how Christmas brings families together. One thing my family does every year is visit the Cincinnati Zoo for the annual Festival of Lights. We have been going there ever since I can remember and it truly is one of the highlights of my year. We walk through the displays and take pictures near different lights and decorations. My favorite lights are the fake icicles that the zoo hangs from some trees. If we're lucky we get to see the animals in their exhibits. After a while you can get pretty hungry, and my favorite holiday treat is their roasted cinnamon almonds. You can smell them from a mile away and it's a nice treat to warm you up. Pair that with a nice cup of hot chocolate, and you’ve got a great evening. Every year we do the same thing, but it never gets old because it's a great way to share memories with your family in a beautiful setting.

Conclusion: We hope you have a great holiday season and check out some of our favorite holiday songs, drinks, and traditions. Maybe you can debate with your friends about whether Christmas music should be played before or after Thanksgiving. Whatever you decide, we’re Jenna Uterstaedt and Ellie Voelkerding, and this concludes our seasonal debate.

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