|THE HALLOWEEN ENCYCLOPEDIA (McFarland, 2003). 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.
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