The Origins of Halloween

By Staff
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The Origins of Halloween & Why We Love Being Spooked

As the celebration of Halloween illustrates, people really enjoy being scared stiff. But the commercialized violence and fear-based aspects of Halloween bear little resemblance to the spiritually-uplifting characteristics of Samhain—the pagan festival of honoring one’s ancestors that contemporary Halloween stems from. This is just one of the misconceptions that one comes across when studying the origins of Halloween and the spiritual traditions of those who fall outside the religious parameters of mainstream society. Here are some articles from the Utne Reader archive that address these misconceptions as well as celebrate the odd, but age-old fascination with being spooked.

From the Utne Archive

The Meaning of Halloween

The true origin of Halloween isn’t spooky at all.

Witchcraft, Yesterday and Today

Pagan author and activist Starhawk destigmatizes witchcraft.

Spooks, Ghouls, and Recyclables

Helpful tips for finding eco-friendly Halloween costumes and recycling options for all those candy wrappers.

From the Utne Bookshelf

Our Fascination With Vampire Stories

Vampires Are Us, by the late Margot Adler, examines how vampire stories have become the vehicle that lets us play with the questions of mortality.

Inside Haitian Voudou

Haitian Voudou has been known and popularized only through its darkest, most sinister side. The misconception is severe; it is as if one were to promulgate a definition of Christianity based entirely on a description of Satanism.

An Inhabitant of Carcosa

Subtle unease builds in this short story by Ambrose Bierce about the great and ancient city of Carcosa, one of several horror stories for adults featured in The Weiser Book of Horror and the Occult.

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