Halloween is my favorite holiday and I love the history of this very popular international holiday. The original "Halloween" was far different then what we see Halloween as today in America. "Halloween: An American Holiday, an American History" is the most in-depth telling of the history of Halloween I have read. The book was written by Lesley Pratt Bannatyne and it is about 158 pages long (not including all the pages of references). Extensive research went into writing this book and it shows. Some parts are hard to follow due to the extensive explaining of certain traditions. The book also has poems, news paper clippings, art work and photos depicting different aspects of Halloween throughout the centuries.
Most of the book focuses on how the blending of many traditions and holidays across around the world came together when men and women began coming to the Americas. Depending on what part of the east the new pilgrims settled made an influence on what traditions were brought with them. Many of the traditions were very similar as well as the holidays that eventually turned into the American Halloween. Many of these traditions were frowned upon by the puritan church and sparked controversy with witches and devil worship.
The Victorian era changed the holiday into a more child friendly family holiday. The Victorians saw Halloween as the time when singly young men and women would find out who they were to marry by parlor games and divination "tricks". Young women seeing the reflection of the man they would marry in mirrors or apple peals laying in the shape of the first letter of their future husband or wife.
During the wars, Halloween was almost discontinued due to lake of supplies and concern for the war. Also the "pranksters" were costing cities more money then they had to spare to repair painted walls, broken windows and stolen property.
The end of the book focuses on what we think of Halloween as today. The trick or treating, dressing up in costume and parties and how the holiday has become just as big and important to adults as it is to children.
If you enjoy history and Halloween this book will hold you interest from front to back. I found it extremely interesting. Even though the holiday has changed drastically through the centuries there are many similarities and traditions that have stood strong to the holiday throughout the ages.