Halloween is almost here. People will soon be carving pumpkins, dressing up, trick-or-treating, and getting more candy than they can eat. And in the midst of all the Halloween celebrations, many people will be telling ghost stories.
While the traditions of dressing up and trick-or-treating have a few possible origins, the origins of Halloween ghost stories are rather consistent. Halloween began in ancient Britain and Ireland with Samhain, a Celtic festival. Samhain was observed on October 31, at the end of summer. According to CBN.com (information taken from Encyclopaedia Britannica):
“The souls of the dead were supposed to revisit their homes on this day and the autumnal festival acquired sinister significance, with ghosts, witches, goblins, black cats, fairies and demons of all kinds said to be roaming about. It was the time to placate the supernatural powers controlling the processes of nature. In addition, Halloween was thought to be the most favorable time for divinations concerning marriage, luck, health, and death. It was the only day on which the help of the devil was invoked for such purposes.”
Because Halloween was a Pagan holiday, it took some time for the United States, with its strong Christian heritage, to adopt it. Eventually in the 1800s Irish settlers began to celebrate it; Irish Catholic churches, and later the entire Catholic Church, adopted it and named it All Hallows Eve because it occurred on the eve of All Saints Day. From then on, Halloween worked its way into the fabric of American tradition.
The tradition of telling ghost stories grew out of the idea that dead souls were roaming around visiting people. They were also common because the devil was thought to have a hand in helping the aforementioned divinations. Thus ghost stories have been ingrained in Halloween traditions from the start; they’ve just adapted over time.
Clearly telling ghost stories is an important part of Halloween. So when it’s time to tell them, don’t just tell the same old stories. Visit the library and check out our folklore and ghost stories books so you have some new stories to tell. Go to Rohrbach Library’s catalog and do a title search for “ghost stories” to get a list of the resources available for you here.
Also, you can check out the storytelling and folklore sections as well. These are some great resources for any budding young teachers who want something fun to read in class. The Dewey Decimal call number for storytelling is 372. The Library of Congress classifications are as follows: LB 1042 for teaching and Z 7183 for storytelling in libraries. The Dewey Decimal number for folklore is 398.2 and the Library of Congress section for folklore collections is GR. If you want folklore teaching resources, check out LB 1583.8. Items are available in our main collection and CMC collection.
Ankerberg, John, John Weldon, and Dillon Burroughs. “The Pagan Roots of
Halloween.” CBN.com, n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2009.
Siemer, Hal. “Spooky Halloween: A Celebration of the Dark.”
QuestMagazine.com. Quest Magazine, 2009. Web. 27 Oct. 2009.