"Halloween is a rich mix of historical detail and keen cultural observation about the holiday in North America. He reaches far back to the festival's pagan roots and follows its development into a unique celebration of liminality, cultural borrowing, and outrageous invention. Halloween is surely an important contribution to a growing literature that takes seriously our moments of play." --Penne Restad, author of Christmas in America: A History
"This book paints its subject in very broad strokes, giving us a glimpse of an increasingly significant holiday over a vast expanse of space and time. How delightful, too, to read about an event through a North American, rather than strictly American perspective." --Jack Kugelmass, author of Masked Culture: The Greenwich Village Halloween Parade
Boasting a rich, complex history rooted in Celtic and Christian ritual, Halloween has evolved from ethnic celebration to a blend of street festival, fright night, and vast commercial enterprise. In this colourful history, Nicholas Rogers takes a lively, entertaining look at the cultural origins and development of one of the most popular holidays of the year. Drawing on a fascinating array of sources, from classical history to Hollywood films, Rogers traces Halloween as it emerged from the Celtic festival of Samhain (summer's end), picked up elements of the Christian Hallowtide (All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day), arrived in North America as an Irish and Scottish festival, and evolved into an unofficial but large-scale holiday by the early 20th century. He examines the 1970s and '80s phenomena of Halloween sadism (razor blades in apples) and inner-city violence (arson in Detroit), as well as the immense influence of the horror film genre on the reinvention of Halloween as a terror-fest. Throughout his vivid account, Rogers shows how Halloween remains, at its core, a night of inversion, when social norms are turned upside down, and a temporary freedom of expression reigns supreme. He examines how this very license has prompted censure by the religious Right, occasional outrage from law enforcement officials, and appropriation by Left-leaning political groups. Engagingly written and based on extensive research, Halloween is the definitive history of the most bewitching day of the year, illuminating the intricate history and shifting cultural forces behind this enduring trick-or-treat holiday.
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