Northern European folklore had different ways of referring to distant lights known to spontaneously appear on peatlands, including will-o’-the-wisp, and the more familiar jack-o’-lantern.
Peatlands have been central to how northern European folklore has explored fear and a sense of the supernatural for hundreds of years. Their persistence is also key to slowing down climate change.
The ‘Malleus Maleficarum,’ a medieval handbook, was used to try and execute supposed witches. Its influence lasted for centuries – including at the Salem Witch Trials.
Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Witch trials relied on a medieval text called the “Malleus Maleficarum” – a book this reference librarian can hold in her hands.
The Rev. Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary does a ritual of remembrance at the grave of a Wiccan soldier killed in Afghanistan.
Courtesy of Selena Fox
Samhain will be particularly poignant this year for Wiccans who are members or veterans of the US military as they process the end of the 20-year war in Afghanistan.
Perfumes, potions and witches have been entwined for centuries.
Frederick Stuart Church/Smithsonian American Art Museum/Wikimedia Commons
Scent and magic have been entwined in our imaginations for centuries – right up to today’s witch-inspired perfumes.
Experts give trick-or-treating the green light this year.
Anchiy/E+ Collection via Getty Images
There’s no need to pull out the candy catapult this year, but a few reasonable precautions can keep COVID-19 transmissions in check.
Modern vampires like Dracula may be dashing, but they certainly weren’t in the original vampire myths.
Archive Photos/ Moviepix via Getty Images
The past century’s vampires have often been a bit dashing, even romantic. That’s not how the myth started out.
While death may be a given, the certainty of taxes on candy depends on the state.
AP Photo/Peter Prengaman
Whether you pay tax on your Halloween treat supply depends on which state you live in and how it defines candy.
The Black Vampyre is an early literary example of an argument for emancipation of slaves.
Thomas Nast/Harper's Weekly/The Met
A tale of vampirism would have been shocking to readers at the time if was published, not because of its monsters, but its politics.
A year ago, face masks were a rarity in Australia. But social researchers say there is evidence of a growing acceptance of this simple object.
Witches have a long history dating back to Ancient Rome. This print from 1815 is by British engraver Edward Orme.
The role of witches in society relates directly to the role of women in society. And during times of social upheaval and changes, witches represent access to women’s power.
Witch-identified folks are sharing spells online in an act of magical resistance in advance of the U.S. election.
As the U.S. election approaches, various groups have mobilized to vote. But witches have taken it a little further, organizing online spellcasting meet-ups to engage in magical resistance.
A home in New York decorated for 2020 Halloween.
Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images
For members of the minority religion of Wicca and witchcraft – part of contemporary paganism – Halloween is not just a children’s holiday: It is both a celebration and acceptance of death.
From village healers to global brands, witches have long cast their spells over commercial transactions.
The process of turning a newly dead animal into a bony skeleton relies on an explosion of life that ushers in decomposition.
Nutrients and energy contained within dead animals are repurposed and repackaged into living, breathing insects.
Filmmaker George Romero at the premiere of ‘Survival of the Dead’ in 2010.
Ben Hider/Getty Images
Now that the whole world is echoing Romero’s films, everyone can learn from his legacy.
A monster face made of guacamole and vegetables, left, and owls and spiders made from sesame seeds are great fun for kids and healthy, too.
This could be your kids’ healthiest Halloween ever, despite COVID-19, by cutting back on the sugar.
Black licorice gets its distinctive flavor from licorice root.
Who knew that black licorice had a dark side? A scientist explains when this treat becomes a threat.
Children can use preferences for leverage.
PeopleImages/E+ via Getty Images
When deciding whether others should make trades, children may consider who likes what.
‘The Craft: Legacy,’ to be released this fall, is a remake of the 1996 teen witch film ‘The Craft’ and suggests the continued relevance of punk and goth influences for rebellious teens. Here, detail from the 2020 poster.
(Sony Pictures/Blumhouse Productions)
Some horror films explore women’s struggles for empowerment, sexual freedom and self-fulfilment. Six movies show the ghost, bride, mother, vampiress, witch and monster as guises of vengeful women.
Staying safe this Halloween means following a few simple rules.
Anatolii Stozub via Getty Images
There are plenty of ways to enjoy the holiday without trick-or-treating, but you still need to make sure you are socially distancing and wearing a mask – and not just one for Halloween.