Cover of first edition

The Halloween Encyclopedia, published by McFarland in Fall 2003; second edition published in 2011.

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The concept of Halloween as a holiday and cultural phenomenon worthy of serious study is only a few decades old, and only since the mid–1980s have scholars started to accept that Halloween’s place in modern society (especially in American society) goes beyond horror fiction and children’s books. The first book devoted solely to Halloween was published just over a century ago, and now, Halloween has its own encyclopedia. Major entries include Samhain, the Celtic ancestor of Halloween; witches, a major Christian addition to the mythology of Halloween and one that still generates interest and controversy; skeletons, a universally recognized symbol of death; the Day of the Dead, the Mexican holiday that is often compared to Halloween; the jack-o’-lantern, which has its roots in folktales starring the rascally Jack who always manages somehow to beat the Devil; and trick-or-treating, the most loved and misunderstood American Halloween ritual. Hundreds of small entries cover Halloween history and mythology, fortune-telling lore, harvest legends, and 20th century additions to the holiday’s rituals.

“…Morton’s research extends to Wiccan lore, Celtic observances, and Christian mythology…she writes enthusiastically about folk customs and is sensitive to the controversies surrounding horror literature, witchcraft, and demonism. Without undue pedantry, she explains the house-to-house souling pilgrimage, the incorporation of cabbages in Scottish holidays, the source of the boogeyman in bogs, and the lengthy training of Druid priests…this generously illustrated and indexed overview is a worthy addition to public and school libraries as well as the reference shelves of journalists and leaders of community events.” – Booklist Reference Books Bulletin, Volume 100, Number 14, March 15, 2004

“…Lisa Morton’s tome is chock full of interesting facts…adroitly written and impressively researched, the encyclopedia draws on a myriad of works – folklore collections, Catholic and Irish histories, scholarly studies of paganism and witchcraft, newspaper accounts – to cover an impressive range of subjects…”Brutarian Quarterly, Number 42, Summer, 2004

“Lisa Morton has captured the ‘spirit’ of this ‘hallowed’ holiday in her new book. Herein, she’s covered every angle (cultural, pop-cultural, historical, spiritual, and traditional ‘harvest’) of Halloween…Read this book to become an expert on the topic of Halloween!…This isn’t just another stale piece of candy. Monster lovers like me, who love Halloween, will find this is one well worthwhile .” – Allen A. Debus, Scary Monsters Magazine Fall 2003

“…wonderful images of Halloween…Appendices also add an important and useful element…a well-researched and well-developed work. Not only covering the popular culture’s impact on the current holiday, but also exploring how folk traditions from various cultures have woven together to become the holiday we celebrate today…a must have for public libraries.” – Tim Daniels, Emerald Reference Reviews, Vol. 18, No.2, March 2008

Read excerpts from The Halloween Encyclopedia

Cover of first edition