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Halloween, An American Holiday: An American Holiday, an American History Paperback – August 31, 1998


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Halloween, An American Holiday: An American Holiday, an American History + The Book of Halloween (Forgotten Books) + Halloween Nation: Behind the Scenes of America's Fright Night
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Pelican Publishing; 1st Pelican ed edition (August 31, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565543467
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565543461
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,572 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"An excellent resource for research into the history of holidays . . . in the United States . . . Highly Recommended." -- The Book Report

From the Back Cover

"An excellent resource for research into the history of holidays . . . in the United States . . . Highly Recommended."
--The Book Report

"A well-documented discussion of the blending of traditions from the early days in Europe to present day America."
--Library Talk

Halloween, the fastest-growing holiday in the country, offers a unique window on American culture. This volume traces the history of Halloween celebrations from their earliest roots in the British Isles. It also explores the vital influences of the ethnic, religious, and occult heritages of the diverse peoples who settled in America.

Related recipes, poems, songs, and crafts are all included in this, the only book that reveals the whole history of All Hallow's Eve in the United States.

One of the nation's foremost authorities on Halloween, Lesley Pratt Bannatyne has shared her vast knowledge of the holiday in television specials for Nickelodeon and the History Channel. She is also co-director of the Studebaker Theater.


More About the Author

Lesley Bannatyne is an American author who writes extensively on Halloween, especially its history, literature, and contemporary celebration. Bannatyne is also a freelance journalist who's covered stories ranging from druids in Somerville, Massachusetts to relief workers in Bolivia. Her most recent book, Halloween Nation. Behind the Scenes of America's Fright Night, was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award. She has written four other books on Halloween including a history, an anthology, a children's book and a How-To. Read more on http://www.iskullhalloween.com

Customer Reviews

You will learn the whole history behind halloween with this book,I enjoyed it greatly.
kurtis p primm
The book covers the earliest days of our country through the 20th century and even does a colony by colony run down of Halloween events in the Colonial period.
ShawnMarie
There was no such character in any Celtic pantheon; the word Samhain (pronounced roughly "sah-wen") actually means "summer's end."
process precocious

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By alexxcz on September 16, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is just what its title suggests, a very good accounting of the history of Halloween in America. It lists the various immigrants who came to America and the folk customs and beliefs they brought that shaped the holiday. A history of each region of the country also shows how Halloween developed independently before a "national holiday " was formed. Well written and intruiging!
My only negative comment of the book would be that some of the pre-American history of the book - that of the ancient Druid's Samhain is inaccurate. No other scholarly writing has ever substantiated that the Celts had a God of the dead known as "Samhain" or that they worshipped a Phoenician deity known as Baal. Belenos is a Celtic God name, but not a relation of Baal! Still, these are small glitches in an otherwise stellar book. I do recommend it to any folk historian or lover of the holiday!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Janet Meyers on December 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
This history is the best around for telling the story of Halloween in America in a fun (e.g., not academic) way. The distant Celtic past is not really the focus of the book, and its treatment here looks like a summary of sources available at the time this book was published (1990--Newer editions correct some common misunderstandings, I notice) The strengths of this book have to do with the folklore of Halloween, both in the colonies and throughout young America, and with the holiday's Victorian celebration. A Halloween History surveys life in the colonies and the sorts of beliefs that existed there to make an American celebration of Halloween possible, like ghost lore, traditions of some ethnic groups (Scots, Germans, etc.), religious backgrounds (All Saints and All Souls celebrations) and evidence of certain kinds of superstition: of magical black cat bones, listening at the crossroads to hear the future whispered in the wind, of wandering jack-o-lantern lights that can lead you astray, etc. Moving on through the 18th and 19th centuries, Halloween symbols are described in terms of folklore recorded both in the old world and the new so we can see the parallels--which was really fascinating for me. The Victorian chapter examines 19th-century mass media to translate what Halloween looked like and meant at the time when it emerged as a full-fledged American holiday. The book finishes with a decade-by-decade coverage of 20th-century celebration (up through the 80s, and publication). A treasure for Halloween fans in my opinion!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By "maaj" on September 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a great book to get if you want to know more about Halloween. Not just the typical stuff, although that's there too, but where it came from and how poeple have been celebrating it for years. It's fun to read and has great information in it. I'm going to use it with my class so they know more about why we celebrate Halloween.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
Bannatyne's book on Halloween is the best. Well-researched, absolutely packed with information and nuggets of fascinating lore on every page, yet the author eschews dry academic prose - it's like listening to an erudite friend explain his/her area of expertise. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about such an interesting holiday. You really couldn't find a better, more comprehensive Halloween resource.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
I was extremely pleased with this book. Not only does it chronologically relate the history of Halloween, but it also describes the cultural contexts of its evolution. This book is not only well researched, but offers a very readable and entertaining look at the folklore associated with Halloween. My only criticism is the poor editing by the publisher or reviewers. Unfortunately, this book is replete with "typos," and I found one entire paragraph repeated on consecutive pages. This becomes annoying after awhile. However, the content and writing style are so good, don't let the editing stop you from buying it. Actually, I wish it were available hardcopy.
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54 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Hans P. Broedel on October 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
Although Bannatyne's history of Halloween contains useful material, especially covering the recent past, her work is marred by serious errors, mostly the result, I suspect, of an uncritical reading of her sources. She suggests, for example, that there was an actual cult of witches in the middle ages, a cult somehow linked to the druids, which is simply not true. A glance through her inadequate notes reveals good modern sources for folklore set side by side with works now hopelessly out of date. Bannatyne also consistently makes connections between Halloween and other folk traditions that are in no way supported by the evidence she presents. This may be, as a spokesman for the history channel suggests, "the best book on the history of halloween available today," but readers should be warned not to put too much stock in this endorsement.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
As someone who has always loved Halloween, this book is a must have. After seeing, "The Haunted History of Halloween" on the History Channel, I went out and bought this book. It is by far the best book I have found that tells the whole history behind the holiday that we celebrate every October 31. From the ancient festivities of Samhain to the parties thrown by Victorians to parades in the 30's and 40's, this book explores the significance behind this holiday. Why do we trick or treat and dress up? Why are ghosts, witches, black cats, and devils associated with this holiday. This book answers these questions and a lot more.
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