Encyclopedia of Religion

Halloween, also known as All Hallow’s Eve, originated as the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, meaning “summer’s end.”  It is a festival celebrated on October 31, the evening prior to the Christian Feast of All Saints (All Saints’ Day). The autumnal holiday, rooted in Christian and pagan festivals—with elements of magic and mystery, celebrated the link between seasonal and life cycles (winter was then a time associated with death).

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Chicago, Illinois • Albert M. Bender, Artist
(Date stamped on verso) August 30, 1940.
By the People, For the People: Posters from the WPA, 1936-1943.  Library of Congress.

For more information about Halloween, or other topics, consult the Encyclopedia of Religion, an eReference book in the library collection. This resource, published in 2004, is considered to be a standard in the field. It presents a cross-cultural approach that emphasizes religion’s role with everyday life and as a unique experience from culture to culture.

Search for this title under the Book tab on the library website.

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