The History of Halloween

Historical inspirations came before, but the word Halloween or Hallowe’en dates to about 1745. Introduction Halloween or Hallowe’en (a contraction of “All Hallows’ evening”), also known as Allhalloween,] All Hallows’ Eve, or All Saints’ Eve, is a celebration observed in many countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’[…]

Samhain: The Celtic Inspiration for Modern Halloween

Ancient Celts divided the year into two halve – the lighter half and the darker half, and held four celebrations to mark the changing seasons. By Hillary SmithArt Historian Introduction Samhain (pronounced “SOW-in” or “SAH-win”), was a festival celebrated by the ancient Celts halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. It began at[…]

How the God You Worship Influences the Ghosts You See

Gallowglass, CC BY-SA By Dr. Frank T. McAndrew / 10.25.2017 Cornelia H. Dudley Professor of Psychology Knox College If you’ve ever seen a ghost, you have something in common with 18 percent of Americans. But while there’s evidence that our brains are hardwired to see ghosts, the apparitions we see tend to vary. Historians who study and catalogue ghostly[…]

How the Dead Danced with the Living in Medieval Society

Detail of figures from the Dance Macabre, Meslay-le-Grenet, from late 15th-century France. Ashby Kinch, CC BY By Dr. Ashby Kinch / 10.29.2017 Professor of English The University of Montana In the Halloween season, American culture briefly participates in an ancient tradition of making the world of the dead visible to the living: Children dress as skeletons, teens go[…]

Tricking and Treating has a History

Halloween parade in New York. AP Photo/Andres Kudacki By Dr. Regina Hansen / 10.25.2017 Senior Lecturer in Rhetoric Boston University Over the past few decades, Halloween celebrations have gained in popularity, not only with children and families, but with all those fascinated with the spooky and scary. As a scholar of myth and religion in popular culture, I look at[…]