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Halloween History and a Conversation with the Holiday’s Leading Expert, Lesley Bannatyne – The Big Séance Podcast: My Paranormal World #18

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Lesley Bannatyne, the nation's leading expert on Halloween, The Big Séance Podcast

 

Halloween is just days away, so what better time to talk about the history of my favorite holiday with the nation’s leading expert on Halloween, Lesley Bannatyne! She’s the author of five books on the topic of Halloween, including Halloween: An American Holiday, an American History, which will celebrate 25 years of being in print in 2015. Click HERE for my review of this book.

 

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Halloween History

Topics discussed in this episode:

Can you guess Lesley’s favorite Halloween candy?

Lesley shares some of her favorite memories from the holiday. 

Where did Halloween come from?

  • Samhain
  • Harvest
  • Darkness and the coming winter
  • Folklore and Superstition
  • “The Other World”
  • All Hallows/All Saints Day
  • All Souls Day
  • Pranks and Mischiefs
  • Guy Fawkes
  • Victorians and Halloween Parties

When did Trick-or-Treating become a part of Halloween? 1940s

  • Kids and mischief around Halloween
  • Adults threw Halloween parties to keep young people from mischief and vandalism. It didn’t work. 
  • Adults learned to offer food and treats (extortion/begging?) in exchange for no mischief or violence on their property. 
  • Trick-or-Treating seen on television for the first time
  • Trick-or-Treat for Unicef (charity)

When did costumes go from being disguises to a way of expression? Costumes then and now. 

Our favorite symbols of Halloween. Where did they come from?

  • The Witch
  • The Black Cat
  • The Bat
  • Pumpkins and Jack-o-Lanterns
  • Are Scarecrows disappearing?

The Victorians and Halloween… how did they celebrate?

  • Parties and Decorations
  • Games
  • “Dumb Supper”
  • Seeing the image of your future love

Lesley shares how she researched and found historic articles and information from Halloweens past from vintage periodicals. 

Urban Myths about Halloween

  • Fear
  • Apples and razor blades
  • Black Cats and Satanic Sacrifice

Church, Religion, and Halloween

How has Halloween changed since Lesley’s book was first released?

What does duct tape have to do with Halloween? (Ha!)

 

For More on Lesley Bannatyne:

www.iskullhalloween.com

Lesley’s Books

For More Halloween History

Why Halloween Matters

The Literature of Old Halloween

Check out Lesley’s appearance on the BBC on Halloween day!

Check out her appearance on the History Channel’s The Real Story of Halloween

 

Thanks, Lesley!

 

Don’t forget!! Are you a regular listener? Please e-mail (or call, or SpeakPipe) with where you’re listening from, and how you’re listening! I’d appreciate it! Patrick@BigSeance.com

 

Sam Haynes, Spine ChillersSpooky Music featured on this episode is from Sam Haynes. You can find more about Sam and his music at http://www.hauntmusic.co.uk/. Thanks, Sam!

 

 

 

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Two More Halloween Books from Lesley Pratt Bannatyne

Last year I read and reviewed an amazing book by a true Halloween expert, Lesley Pratt Bannatyne. The book is titled HALLOWEEN: An American Holiday, an American History. I loved it and learned so much from it that I’ve referenced the book several times here on the blog. I immediately ordered her follow up book, but I saved it for this year’s autumn lineup. So tonight I present to you HALLOWEEN NATION: Behind the Scenes of America’s Fright Night.

If Lesley’s first Halloween book is the history, then HALLOWEEN NATION is a fun and in-depth snapshot of the current reality of the holiday here in the USA, with some history thrown in when it is necessary, of course. The book covers everything from our obsessions with ghosts, witches, zombies, costumes, and pumpkins, to tricks and pranks, and the different ways we choose (as children AND adults) to celebrate the holiday. Also, she discusses many of the horrifying and heart-stopping haunts that we love to put ourselves through for entertainment. And she truly does go behind scenes, tracking down many interesting people, such as event organizers, a witch, artists, people in the haunted attraction industry, and the people who build and create the creatures used in those attractions.  

The book includes a 20-page section of notes that really shouldn’t be skipped. I’m in the process of finishing these now. She also includes a section of helpful resources and a selected bibliography.

HALLOWEEN NATION is full of fascinating photos in full color. Lesley writes in a friendly style and tends to add humor at the very moment you have the urge to turn to your invisible friend to throw in a funny comment. She’s got you covered.   

A few weeks ago I also picked up Lesley’s A Halloween Reader: Poems, Stories, and Plays from Halloweens Past. I grabbed this one in hopes of finding some stories to share with my students at school on Halloween. I always try to do something different, spooky, and fun to celebrate the day. I’ve also just become more and more fascinated and interested in the history of the holiday. If anyone has access to a time machine, let me know please. I haven’t started this book yet, but I believe I’ll start tonight!

For more on Lesley Pratt Bannatyne, visit her site at iskullhalloween.com.

 

You might also like:

Planning a Halloween Party (in 1911) (Big Séance)

Planning a Halloween Party (in 1911) (Big Séance)

A New Spin On Your Halloween Altar and Decorations (Big Séance)

A New Spin On Your Halloween Altar and Decorations (Big Séance)

Classic trick or treat loot: nostalgic candy & prizes from Halloweens past. (Renae Rude - The Paranormalist)

Classic trick or treat loot: nostalgic candy & prizes from Halloweens past. (Renae Rude – The Paranormalist)

The Haunting of Al Capone (News From the Spirit World)

The Haunting of Al Capone (News From the Spirit World)

 

 

 


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