Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween

Posted June 30th, 2013 by Halloweenish
Trick or Treat, a History of Halloween

Trick or Treat, a History of Halloween

Trick or Treat provides a thorough history of this most misunderstood phenomenon.

Offering a fascinating overview of how Halloween has spread around the globe, it asks how festivals as diverse as the Celtic Samhain, the British Guy Fawkes Day and the Catholic Holy Days of All Saints and All Souls could have blended to produce the modern Halloween.

The holiday was reborn in the United States – where costuming and ‘trick or treat’ rituals became new customs – with parallels in the related, yet independent holidays of Central America, in particular Mexico’s Day of the Dead.

The recent explosion in popularity of haunted attractions is discussed and we see also how Halloween’s popularity is rising in non-Western countries like Russia, Japan and China.

Finally, Morton considers the impact of such events as 9/11 and the economic recession on the celebration as urban legends and costuming wax and wane.

Halloween’s influence on popular culture is examined via the literary works of Washington Irving and Ray Bradbury, films such as John Carpenter’s Halloween and Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, and television series including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Simpsons and True Blood.

Examining Halloween in the context of its increasing worldwide popularity, and illustrated with over 40 images, Trick or Treat leads us on a journey from the spectacular to the macabre, making it a must for anyone looking beyond the mask to the deepest roots of this modern holiday.

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2 Responses to “Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween”

  1. kurtis primm

    Best Halloween History book I have ever read! This is the very best most imformative Halloween history book that I have ever read. If you want to know the true roots of this spactacular holiday, not the heresay, or muddled assumptions, but the truth with facts, then look no further than this book. I have a massive Halloween book collection and I have never read a book yet with so much information about the true roots of Halloween. The book was a great read and I could not put it down. I am so very glad that I bought this book, and if you are a lover of Halloween, or history, then pick up this book. You will be very glad that you did.

  2. Books Lovers Never Go to Bed Alone

    Read like a blog site Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween is precisely what it claimed to be–a history of the centuries old holiday that has become Halloween. Morton’s work is not a scholarly study, but instead strives for a more popular style of writing, including illustrations. As this is not a scholarly study, the question then arises as to why we need another popular history of Halloween. Morton begins her work with the Celtic holiday of Samhain. She provides a thorough background of the Celtic mythology and links to Beltaine as well. She then moves to the continent, focusing on an eclectic combination of holiday influences from Denmark to Guy Fawkes Day in England. There are chapters on The Day of the Dead from Mexico and other global traditions. The book closes with an extensive chapter on modern Halloween, including movies and theme parks. As I finished, I couldn’t help but feel as if I had just finished several Wikipedia articles. There was little fresh information here for fans of the holiday. The work was well-detailed, but those details could come from any decent blog site or encyclopedia article. Simply put, there was little reason to write this book and even less reason to read it. For horror fans, Halloween is the holiday of the year. Scares, frights, ghouls, and monsters come out of the shadows to invade our streets, our homes, and our imaginations. This holiday is rich with history and symbolism, and Morton tries to bring that history to life. Unfortunately, it’s merely a retelling of the basics instead of an enlightening journey into the past. Three stars because it’s well-written, but check out any of the major Halloween web sites for essentially the same material.Review copy

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