Halloween vs Thanksgiving: Difference and Comparison

Festivals have become an inevitably delightful and pleasant part of our lives. There are holidays on different occasions in different countries across the globe.

The fall brings with it two of the most widely celebrated festivals in the West- Halloween and Thanksgiving. While they may seem a bit confusing to differentiate, there are several comparable features. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Halloween is an October 31 celebration originating in ancient Celtic festivals. Thanksgiving is a North American holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, commemorating a harvest feast.
  2. Halloween traditions involve dressing up in costumes, trick-or-treating, and carving pumpkins, whereas Thanksgiving centers around a family meal, featuring turkey and various side dishes.
  3. Halloween focuses on the supernatural, spirits, and spooky themes, while Thanksgiving emphasizes gratitude, family, and togetherness.

Halloween vs Thanksgiving 

Halloween, celebrated on October 31st, is believed to have originated from ancient Celtic festivals, which marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November and is rooted in the history of the United States.

Halloween vs Thanksgiving

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Halloween is a holiday that marks the day prior to the Western Christian Feast of All Saints. It indicates the commencement of the season of Allhallowtide.

Popular places of attraction during the festival include haunted houses, corn mazes, and hayrides. The celebration of Halloween includes parties, costumes, pranks, and trick-or-treating.

Wearing scary costumes, going trick-or-treating, getting spooked by black cats, and bobbing for apples are some prominent Halloween traditions. Today, Halloween costumes include fiction, celebrities, and generic archetypes. 

Thanksgiving is a holiday that connotes the act of giving thanks, or grateful acknowledgement of benefits and favors.

The main area of attention on Thanksgiving is the dinner that includes a wide variety of food items varying from country to country and culture to culture.

Parades and football games are associated with this holiday. In some countries, Thanksgiving is celebrated as a secular holiday. The dates and celebrations of the holiday vary from culture to culture. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonHalloween Thanksgiving 
Origin Halloween originates from the ancient pre-christian festival of Samhain. Thanksgiving originated in 1620.
Age GroupHalloween is celebrated mostly by kids. Thanksgiving is celebrated by people of all ages. 
Attractions Halloween circles around candy, pumpkin, and costumes.Thanksgiving is symbolic of ideals such as love, family, and togetherness. 
Decorations The decorations during Halloween are more impressive than those during Thanksgiving.The decorations during Thanksgiving are less attractive than those during Halloween. 
Date Halloween is scheduled to occur on 31st October. Thanksgiving takes place on different dates. 

What is Halloween?

Halloween is a celebration observed on 31st October. It commences the observance of Allhallowtide which is the time dedicated to the beginning of the liturgical year that signifies the remembering of the dead.

The festival is observed by Western Christians and many non-christians around the world. There are several treats and symbols associated with Halloween. 

Some famous Halloween activities include trick-or-treating, visiting haunted attractions, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, attending Halloween costume parties, playing pranks, telling scary stories, carving pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns, watching horror or Halloween-themed films.

In fact, new horror films are released before Halloween to take advantage of the holiday. Halloween includes families coming together to make costumes for their children. 

The foods associated with Halloween are Barmbrack, Bonfire toffee, candy apples, candy corn, candy pumpkins, caramel apples, caramel corn, Halloween cake, roasted pumpkin seeds, roasted sweet corn, pumpkin pie and soul cakes.

The Halloween costumes are modeled after figures such as ghosts, scary looking witches, devils, skeletons, and vampires. 

Over the years, Halloween costumes have evolved to include fiction, celebrities, and generic archetypes. Attractions during Halloween include haunted houses, corn mazes, and hayrides.

The main aim of such attractions is to thrill and scare patrons. There are some Christians however who are reluctant to celebrate Halloween as they glorify evil. Nonetheless, the festival is celebrated with enthusiasm in many countries of the world. 


What is Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is a national holiday in different countries across the globe. The original significance of Thanksgiving was to mark a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year.

The holiday is perfectly timed at the end of November. Some of the countries where Thanksgiving is celebrated are the United States, Liberia, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Canada. 

In Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October. In the United States, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.

While Thanksgiving has historical roots, it is also celebrated as a secular holiday. Holidays similar to that of Thanksgiving  are celebrated in Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom. 

There are several traditions that mark Thanksgiving.

In the United States, some of these traditions are watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, breaking the wishbone for good luck, eating a traditional Thanksgiving meal, taking a nap, sharing what you are most thankful for, watching an American football game, running a turkey trot, and giving back via donations. 

Usually Thanksgiving dinner includes turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. Other food items include gravy, green beans, dinner rolls, pumpkin pie, and roast turkey.

The day of Thanksgiving  is celebrated with friends and family. The day following Thanksgiving is Black Friday wherein you can shop till you drop. 


Main Differences Between Halloween and Thanksgiving 

  1. While Halloween is celebrated in association with the dead, Thanksgiving is an act of being grateful. 
  2. The food items eaten at Halloween are candy, Halloween cake, and roasted pumpkin seeds. On the other hand, food items eaten at Thanksgiving are turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing.
  3. While there is no holiday to celebrate Halloween, there is a national holiday on Thanksgiving. 
  4. Halloween ranks lower in appreciation than Thanksgiving because people are able to spend quality time with their friends and family on the latter occasion.
  5. Halloween spurs more creative decorations than Thanksgiving. 
Difference Between Halloween and Thanksgiving
  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thanksgiving 
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween#:~:text=Halloween%20activities%20include%20trick%2Dor,and%20watching%20horror%20or%20Halloween%2D 

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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