Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night
Oxford University Press, 2003 - 198 pagina's
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 colorful 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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Not perfect, but it's a good semi-popular/scholarly book. Of course the research Rogers did does cause that the book has an overflow on facts, but that's just a trademark of good scholarship. Although this book is less readable than the popular Halloween books, the research really seems decent and gives a fresh perspective on older holidays like 'Samhein' and 'All Hallows-' and 'All Souls Day'. Unlike popular other popular Halloween history books, this book crushes anachronistics and gives decent and believable arguments against the widely held view that 'All Hallows-' and 'All Souls Day' were invented by the church leaders to make a shrewd attempt to christianize the pagan festivals of Samhein and Pomona. After the first two chapters the book does get more dull, for me as an enthousiast of classic and medieval history, but that doens't take away that Rogers did a fine job on that as well (maybe even relatively better than in the first two chapters). With that said, Rogers did a good job on his historical research and his presentation of his arguments. Less readability, but way more reliability than other popular Halloween history pulp. Unlike most people think, Rogers established with this book his position as one of the leading (maybe even the leading) Halloween historians of today.