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Halloween and Other Festivals of Death and Life

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9780870498138: Halloween and Other Festivals of Death and Life
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Essays discuss Halloween and related holidays and their adaptation to the modern world, including customs in Ulster, Pennsylvania, Newfoundland, Texas, the Canadian prairie, Vermont, Greenwich Village, and other places

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"Halloween is many things to many people; we do not celebrate the day in any one way." So Jack Santino writes in this first ever collection of essays dedicated to the study of Halloween and related festivals. Thirteen folklore and culture scholars examine the evolution of Halloween from its Celtic origins through its adaptation into modern culture. Essays on holiday customs describe harvest and autumnal rituals in Scotland, new Halloween traditions in response to legends about contaminated candy, the custom of "pranking" (more popular in some areas of the U.S. than trick-or-treating), England's Guy Fawkes Day and a parallel Bonfire Night in Newfoundland, and the development of American trick-or-treating in the years 1940-1990.

Also covered are the sociopolitical meanings of carnival celebrations and attempts to control them, the Tex-Mex tradition of el Dío de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), and community approaches to Halloween in such diverse locales as the Canadian prairie, rural Vermont, and Greenwich Village in New York City. A final section looks at the history of Halloween noisemakers and unusual imagery (including the decoration of graves) in two Southern settings. In several of the essays, the authors examine the ironic, even disturbing, implications of such a popular holiday being based on images of death, evil, and the grotesque.

Halloween and Other Festivals of Death and Life is written with a lively balance of scholarship, anecdotes, and enthusiasm, with ample black-and-white illustrations. Whether you're interested in Halloween as a scholar or simply a celebrant, this is the book you need. --Fiona Webster

Book Description:

Why do we celebrate Halloween? No one gets the day off, and unlike all other major holidays it has no religious or governmental affiliation. A survivor of our pre-Christian, agrarian roots, it has become one of the most popular and widely celebrated festivals on the contemporary American calendar.
Jack Santino has put together the first collection of essays to examine the evolution of Halloween from its Celtic origins through its adaptation into modern culture. Using a wide variety of perspectives and approaches, the thirteen essayists examine customs, communities, and material culture to reveal how Halloween has manifested itself throughout all aspects of our society to become not just a marginal survivor of a dying tradition but a thriving, contemporary, post-industrial festival.  Its steadily increasing popularity, despite overcommercialization and criticism, is attributed to its powerful symbolism that employs both pre-Christian images and concepts from popular culture to appeal to groups of all ages, orientations, and backgrounds. However, the essays in this volume also suggest that there is something ironic and unsettling about the immense popularity of a holiday whose main images are of death, evil, and the grotesque.
Halloween and other Festivals of Death and Life is a unique contribution that questions our concepts of religiosity and spirituality while contributing to our understanding of Halloween as a rich and diverse reflection of our society’s past, present, and future identity.
The Editor: Jack Santino is an associate professor in the department of popular culture at Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio.

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9780870498121: Halloween and Other Festivals of Death and Life

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ISBN 10: 0870498126 ISBN 13: 9780870498121
Publisher: Univ of Tennessee Pr, 1994
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