Each year I revisit the history of Halloween, and each year I learn some new tidbit of how this holiday evolved to what it is today. In my historical romance that I’m working on, the main character, Emily, hosts an All Hallow’s Eve dinner party. At the party, first her father tells a ghost story, and then later her renowned storytelling cousin Amy entertains the guests with a tale of terror that also touches on death, which ends with:
“Then, the black wolf trotted out of the woods, its black tongue dripping blood, teeth bared and menacing, scraps of cloth hanging from its immense jaw. The unknown man, that menacing stranger in town who had brought such terror, was no more.” Amy sat back and accepted the enthusiastic cheers and gasps. Her eyes met Benjamin’s and her smile sobered though stayed intact as her gaze moved to the crowd patting her shoulders and clapping. Ah, she was resisting him, but why?
In early America, All Hallow’s Eve, which later became known as Halloween, was celebrated in the southern colonies but not in the northern where the Puritan influences prevailed. The southern colonies (later States) experienced a more diverse ethnic immigration, including people from the Celtic regions with their traditions. The tradition of telling ghost stories is probably related to the belief that the transition from fall to winter encouraged people to think about death and to wonder what happens after one dies. All Hallow’s Eve led to All Souls Day, both of which focused on death and after life. The first ghost story was told by the Roman statesman/author Pliny the Younger, who wrote the story in his letters during the roman empire. Apparently, ever since, people have been fascinated by tales of spirits trapped between earth and heaven. To this day, we still enjoy a good ghost story whether in print or at the movies. This fact makes me believe that ghosts do exist in some form whether we have personally experienced the presence of a particular person’s ghost or not.
Click here for more information on the history of Halloween.
Do you believe in ghosts? Who would you want to be haunted by? Or not?