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[…]

Wisconsin, Monster Capital of America?

Forget football and cheese. Maybe it should be famous for its shaggy werewolves and shape-shifting schoolteachers! The Pine Barrens of New Jersey may reverberate with the fetid screams of the cloven-hooved demon known as the Jersey Devil. The redwood forests of the Pacific Northwest may shake from the footfalls of the 9-foot, fur-covered primate known[…]

Magic, Medicine, Miracles: How Medieval Reading Abbey Helped to Invent Halloween

The rituals now associated with Halloween have a complex relationship to this medieval Hallowmass. I had the privilege of giving a public lecture for the Friends of Reading Abbey, in the presence of the Mayor of Reading, Councillor Debs Edwards. The event took place in St James’ Church, sited amongst the ruins of the medieval abbey. The lecture[…]

A History of Halloween

Countries around the world today celebrate Halloween in one form or another. Introduction Halloween is among the oldest traditions in the world as it touches on an essential element of the human condition: the relationship between the living and the dead. Every recorded civilization has created some form of ritual observance focused on what happens[…]