Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts: The Story of Halloween Symbols

Overview

Here are the stories behind all the familiar and not-so-familiar symbols of Halloween. Each of our holidays has its own familiar traditions: Trick-or-treating on Halloween, eating turkey on Thanksgiving, waiting for Santa Claus on Christmas, exchanging cards on Valentine's Day. But where do these customs come from, when did they begin, and why do we continue to observe them? In the engaging blend of careful research and lively prose that has earned her books a lasting place on the holiday bookshelf, Edna Barth ...
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Overview

Here are the stories behind all the familiar and not-so-familiar symbols of Halloween. Each of our holidays has its own familiar traditions: Trick-or-treating on Halloween, eating turkey on Thanksgiving, waiting for Santa Claus on Christmas, exchanging cards on Valentine's Day. But where do these customs come from, when did they begin, and why do we continue to observe them? In the engaging blend of careful research and lively prose that has earned her books a lasting place on the holiday bookshelf, Edna Barth explores the multicultural origins and evolution of the familiar and not-so-familiar symbols and legends associated with our favorite holidays. Full of fascinating historical details and little-known stories, these books are both informative and engaging. Festively illustrated by Ursula Arndt, they are now available again in hardcover as well as paperback editions, featuring new, eye-catching jacket designs, and fun holiday activities inside the paperback covers. Each book includes an annotated list of holiday stories and poems and an index.

Explains the origins of and relates stories associated with familiar Halloween symbols.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Each fall, we are delighted by glowing orange jack-o-lanterns, dancing skeletons, arching black cats and wicked-faced witches. Children and children at heart adorn masks and creepy costumes while trick-or-treating. For most of us, these traditions have been around as long as we can remember. But where did Halloween come from and how have we come to celebrate it in this way? This fascinating book ventures back two thousand years and more in order to discover Halloween's origins across cultures and generations. Are goblins real, for instance? It is said that during the Stone Age, a small, dark skinned people lived in forests in low, turf-roofed huts. Their swiftness and seeming ability to vanish into thin air earned them the reputation of being evil fairies. And what about witches? Witches can be traced back to not only the days of sorcery and magic potions, but also to cave paintings made by magicians of Europe twenty thousand years ago! Spanning many generations and beliefs, the witch and her "familiars," such as black cats, owls, toads and spiders, account for endless stories of mystery and mishap. For many ghosts have also earned their place in Halloween folklore. Years ago, however, the Scotch, Irish and English believed that the disembodied souls of the dead returned home on Halloween night looking for warmth and cheer. To ensure against angry ghosts stealing the harvest, killing livestock or kidnapping children, folks provided a bountiful spread and a warm fire every year on this night. These tales and many others bring us to a well-rounded understanding of the beliefs, rituals and cultures which have shaped one of America's most playful holidays. Halloween activities included.1972, Houghton Mifflin, and $6.95. Ages 10 up. Reviewer: Leslie Julian
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816430871
  • Publisher: Seabury Press, Incorporated, The
  • Publication date: 1/1/1972
  • Pages: 95

Table of Contents

Halloween--and Before 8
The Goblins Will Get You! 13
The Halloween Witch 19
The Witch's Familiars 43
The Halloween Cat 46
The Owl--Harbinger of Evil 50
The Mysterious Bat 52
The Unpopular Toad 54
The Witch's Broomstick 57
Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble 59
Halloween Ghosts 61
Rattling Bones 70
Beware the Jack-O'-Lantern 72
Black and Orange 78
Nuts, Apples, and Cabbages Predict the Future 80
Halloween Foods 85
The Halloween Masquerade 88
Stories for Halloween 95
Index 96
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