Tag Archives: history of halloween

5 of the Latest Books to Land on my Doorstep

Today I bring you the latest books to land on my doorstep. Have you read any of these? Do you have other recommendations? All book descriptions are taken from their Amazon pages, which you can get to by clicking on the book covers. Be sure to check out my Recommended Reading page for some of my recommendations and book reviews. 

 

Paranormal: My Life in Pursuit of the Afterlife by Raymond Moody, M.D. 

The bestselling author of Life After Life, Raymond Moody, offers a stunning, myth-busting memoir of everything he has learned in a lifetime studying “the other side” and our connection to it. The grandfather of the NDE (near death experience) movement, Raymond Moody has, in the words of Dr. Larry Dossey, author of The Power of Premonitions, “radically changed the way modern humans think about the afterlife.” Paranormal, essential reading for fans of Dannion Brinkley and Jeffrey Long, is “a thrilling and inspiring literary experience. Anyone who is not grateful for Moody’s immense contribution to human welfare ought to check his pulse.”

 

My Son and the Afterlife: Conversations from the Other Side by Elisa Medhus 

Elisa is perhaps most known for her website, ChannelingErik.com, and two years ago I featured the site in one of my earliest blog posts here at The Big Séance. One could spend days exploring this site and the many channeled conversations with Erik Medhus.  

Dr. Elisa Medhus never believed in life after death. As an accomplished physi­cian, she placed her faith in science. All of that changed after her son Erik took his own life and then reached out from the other side.

Intimate, heartbreaking, and illuminating, go on an incredible journey from grief and skepticism to healing and belief. Based on Medhus’s wildly popular blog, Channeling Erik, My Son and the Afterlifeprovides answers to the most universal questions of being human.

At once tragic and uplifting, Erik speaks from the other side with candor, wisdom, and depth as he describes his own experiences and provides new answers about the nature of souls, death, and the afterlife—answers that have the potential to change our lives forever.

 

Behind The Walls: A Historical Exposé of The Preston School of Industry by J’aime Rubio

J’aime Rubio is an investigative journalist, true crime writer, historian, and published poet. She is also the author of two blogs: Dreaming Casually and Hollywoodland Forever. I was somehow connected to J’aime when I was in the middle of my grave adoption project this last fall. Now a friend on social media, I can tell you that she is definitely my kind of nerd!

If you are a truth seeker, “Behind The Walls” is definitely a book you will want to read. It will open your eyes to the distressing secrets held deep in history behind those ominous walls of Preston Castle. It is a fact based account of murder, mystery and mistreatment. Many might wonder what actually happened to the former inmates and employees of the Preston School of Industry. You will learn about the startling treatment they received and the outcome of their lives. If you want to learn true history about Preston, read this book.

 

Creating Your Vintage Hallowe’en: Folklore and Traditions by Marion Paull

We are now six months away from Halloween, and it is NEVER too early to prepare! I’ll probably hold off and read these last two books in late summer. I also still have one left from last fall that I can’t wait to read. Check out Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween by Lisa Morton.

Full of spooky artworks, ephemera, vintage-inspired makes, rhymes and stories, Creating your Vintage Hallowe’en celebrates the folklore and traditions surrounding this delightfully unique holiday. Read how folk used to celebrate with dressing up, fortune-telling games, parties, and much pleasurable spookiness, and recreate your own vintage Hallowe’en with old-fashioned projects, including a carved Jack o’ lantern, a witch costume, and fun decorations for your home. Creating your Vintage Hallowe’en is packed full of little-known facts about the origins of Hallowe’en customs such as bobbing for apples and carving lanterns out of pumpkins, while the charming makes and vintage artworks featuring chubby, red-cloaked witches, sleekly silhouetted black cats, cute kittens, cheery goblins and smiling spectres, will inspire you to have your own vintage-style Hallowe’en celebration.

 

Halloween Merrymaking: An Illustrated Celebration of Fun, Food, and Frolics from Halloweens Past by Diane Arkins

Recipes, games, costumes, party ideas, and decorations, along with excerpts from vintage periodicals, show the gaiety that epitomized historic Halloween celebrations.

You might also like:

Recent Books to Land on my Doorstep (from Big Séance in Nov. of 2013)

Tow More Halloween Books from Lesley Pratt Bannatyne (Big Séance)

 

 

 

 

 

 


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)

 

 

 


HALLOWEEN: An American Holiday, an American History…

It makes me sad to admit, but my reading has really slowed down in recent months with so much going on. So I knew I needed to get an early start on this one to get it done in time. I’ve always been the person who gets overly excited about each season before it even arrives (my first “Fall” post was back on August 1st, for God’s sake), so it really worked out for me. 

As you’ve heard me say so often in this blog, I heard this author being interviewed on The Paranormal Podcast with Jim Harold. She is a pro on the topic of Halloween, and I just love listening to her. I believe Jim has had her on a few times. 

The author, Lesley Pratt Bannatyne, from her Amazon author page.

What we know as “Halloween” comes from so many places, traditions, and cultures that it is very easy to get lost in it all. Just like America itself, Halloween really is a blend of it all. The earliest roots come from Pagan traditions that were later changed by the Catholic church into what we know as All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. Throw in a little Guy Fawkes Day (which I’d never heard of), the Celtic festival of Samhain, and the Roman festival of Pomona, and hundreds of years later we open our doors on the evening of October 31st to hear “trick or treat” being shouted by masquerading children of all ages.

 

 

Some interesting things I learned…

  • Interested in a 9th century recipe for “All Souls’ Bread” that the Roman Catholic clergy encouraged the living to offer to spirits of the dead? This book has it. 
  • For a while the holiday seemed to be more about love than anything spooky. Many early Halloween traditions included young women practicing divination of all kinds to determine their future husbands. If you’d like to try it, you can stare into a candle lit mirror at midnight on Halloween. The face of your future love will show up over your shoulder. Not creepy at all (rrrriiiiiiight). This is also where bobbing for apples came from. Another tradition was for girls to hang their wet blouses to dry above them while they slept. Apparently your future husband will visit and “turn the sleeve”. Good to know. 
  • Another interesting tradition… the Irish “Dumb Supper”. A young woman was supposed to see the shape and image of her future love if she cooked and served an entire meal backwards. I’m not sure how this works but I’d love to see it. 
  • Lesley includes a page out of the October 1911 issue of The Delineator, where ideas for entertaining in October are given. Love it! Time machine, please!
  • Using pumpkins as lanterns, or carving pumpkins into “jack-o-lanterns” came from the Irish. Before they arrived to America where large pumpkins were available, they used hollowed out turnips. The story of “Jack” (which there are different versions of) is also fascinating.
  • The Mexican “Day of the Dead” is something I think is fascinating… and I’d love to experience it. 
  • I’ve always wanted to experience the Victorian era, but Halloween in those days just seems so interesting and fun! LOVED this section in the book. Also, one of the main reasons I like the movie Meet Me In St. Louis is the depiction of Halloween in those few scenes. 

There is also plenty in this book on the more familiar 20th century Halloween traditions. 

This is not a new book (it was originally published in 1990), but it’s a good one with lots of fun facts and history. If you want to learn about the history of many of our traditions from this season while also getting in the mood for ghosts and goblins, you should check out this book… maybe put it on your list for next fall. 

 

Halloween is just around the corner! Enjoy!

 

Peace!

 


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