Foods and activities spark holiday spirit

Seasonal festivities return during the fall and winter months


Dannika Shah

Trader Joe’s pumpkin spread is one of many items stocked for the hoidays.

Trisha Sarkar and Sydney Cichitto, Staff Writers

The holiday season is near, stuffed with many new foods and festivities. Here are a few to look forward to over the next month.


Fall and winter themed seasonal foods are back in stores and family kitchens.

Cal High students and teachers are looking forward to enjoying home-cooked meals in the company of their families.

English and sociology teacher Eghosa Obaizamomwan Hamilton celebrates the holidays with food from Nigeria. Her family’s favorites are jollof rice and red pepper stew. For dessert, Hamilton’s family eats puff puff. Puff puff can come in different variations, but the basic ingredients consist of flour, sugar, yeast, water, salt, and oil for deep frying. 

“It is deep-fried and a little ball and you just eat it with your hands,” Hamilton said. “It’s not doughnuts, but like a doughnut hole. And you gobble it up because it is so good!” 

Hamilton recommends Ruth’s Buka and Miliki restaurants in Oakland for Nigerian food.

Sophomore Senia Reynaga has her very own staple foods for the holiday season. Her grandma makes the food from scratch every year.

“My family eats tamales and drinks atole during Christmas,” Reynaga said. “My family is of Mexican descent. We always eat these foods during the holidays as a tradition and have done it all of my life.”

Junior Kohen King celebrates holidays with Hawaiian food.

“I’m Hawaiian and my grandma makes kalua pork and spam with eggs,” Kohen said. “I usually eat spam and eggs when I visit but she makes kalua pork during Thanksgiving because it’s more of a food that is eaten during important events.”

King also recommends Hula Wok BBQ for those looking to try some Kalua pork or spam musubi this holiday.

San Ramon stores and restaurants have also been stocking up for the holiday season.

Trader Joe’s has stocked hundreds of pumpkin products to satisfy customers’ cravings for the iconic fall gourd. Some include pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin cobbler, pumpkin spice hummus, pumpkin-shaped pasta,  pumpkin spiked seltzer, pecan pumpkin oatmeal, and many more. 

Senior Amelia Stevens-Nappi, an employee at Trader Joe’s, said her all-time favorites are the pumpkin kringle and maple streusel. 

“That maple streusel bread is so good. It smells like pancakes,” Stevens-Nappi said. “Oh man, I am hungry now.” 

Winter holiday foods like almond kringles, candy cane, Joe-Joe’s, eggnog, and even black truffle and gingerbread ice cream are also available.

Cold Stone is now selling The Apple of my Pumpkin Pie creation (pumpkin bread batter ice cream, pecans, graham cracker pie crust, apple pie filling and caramel), Almost Baked Banana Bread creation (banana bread batter ice cream, banana, pecans, and cinnamon), and pumpkin bread batter pie. 

Junior Mia Ziblatt tried “The Apple of my Pumpkin Pie” creation after a long cross country run.

“It was amazing,” Ziblatt said. “It had so many holiday flavors. It was a seasonal party in my mouth.”

Salt & Straw in the City Center has created its very own ice ‘scream’ series. Senior Samantha Lawrence had two of the Halloween ice cream flavors and is a big fan of them. 

“I love how Salt & Straw makes basic ice cream flavors extraordinary and fun,” Lawrence said. “[There’s] no single boring ice cream.”

Salt & Straw has released its ‘Friendsgiving’ ice cream series for November, which includes sweet potato pie with double-baked almond streusel, parker house rolls with salted buttercream, candied walnut cheesecake, pumpkin and vegan gingersnap pie, and caramelized turkey and cranberry sauce with actual crispy bacon turkey. 

For boba lovers, Teaspoon is selling the seasonal flavor, “Pumpkin King” (roasted oolong topped with pumpkin-spice-infused cream and Biscoff crumbles). 

Area Activities 

Typical activities teens enjoy during the holidays include traveling, meeting family, ice skating, and shopping.

“I like to go ice skating [during the winter season],” senior Griffin Cramer said. “It’s all that I do around here.”

The City Center Bishop Ranch offers a variety of festive activities available throughout the winter season, one of which includes ice skating. 

The rink is named after Kristi Yamaguchi, a former American figure skater who placed in the Olympics and the World Championships, according to the City Center website. The rink will be open from Nov. 17 to Jan. 2. 

The rink is not the only festive activity offered at the City Center. As stated by the City Center website, the outdoor mall also offers visits with Santa, allowing younger kids to tell jolly old Saint Nick what they want for Christmas and take photos with him. These visits are offered  on Dec. 4. 

In addition, “12 Days of Giveaways” will be offered at the City Center from Dec. 1-12.  Each day the City Center will be giving away gifts through their Instagram account, @citycenterbishopranch. 

There are plenty of activities to do around San Francisco as well. Many students, such as sophomore Rayna Jindal, visit the city during the holidays.

“[My family and I] generally go to San Francisco, and ice skate or see the Christmas tree and Pier 39,” Jindal said.

The Christmas tree lighting takes place every year at Union Square. According to the Union Square website, the lighting took place on Nov. 26. 

Ice skating is also offered at Union Square. The Union Square Ice Skating website states the rink will open on Nov. 3, with general admission tickets priced at $19.

There are other holiday activities in San Francisco as well.

“Every year […] I go to the Orpheum Theater [in San Francisco] with my family to watch The Nutcracker,” junior Elise Hongkham said.

The Nutcracker will be playing in the War Memorial Opera House, starting Dec. 10, according to the San Francisco Ballet website.

Some other local activities include the Hometown Holiday Celebration in Pleasanton. According to the City of Pleasanton’s website, the parade will take place on Dec. 4, in downtown Pleasanton. It will include floats, community groups, and marching bands, with a tree lighting shortly after. 

Another local parade is the Holiday Sights and Sounds Parade in Livermore’s downtown area. The parade will include bands, local businesses, and much more.