Jack-o-lantern and calendar day October 31.

The Politics of Trunk or Treat

Nostalgia, idealism, and the policing of childhood.
Children in costume looking out a window by the light of a jack o' lantern.

Halloween: A Mystic and Eerie Significance

Despite the prevalence of tricks and spooky spirits in earlier years, the American commercial holiday didn’t develop until the middle of the twentieth century.
Man holding a Jack-O-Lantern.

Why Do We Carve Pumpkins Into Jack-O'-Lanterns For Halloween?

It's a tale thousands of years in the making.
Jack O'lantern with children inside it

The Origins of Halloween Traditions

Carving pumpkins, trick-or-treating, and wearing scary costumes are some of the time-honored traditions of Halloween. But why do we do them?
A plaster cast of an early 1900s jack-o’-lantern, known as a “ghost turnip.”

The Twisted Transatlantic Tale of American Jack-o’-Lanterns

Celtic rituals, tricks of nature, and deals with the devil have all played a part in creating this iconic symbol of Halloween.

When Halloween Mischief Turned to Mayhem

Nineteenth-century urbanization unleashed the nation's anarchic spirits.
Candy corn.

Where Our Love/Hate Relationship With Candy Corn Comes From

Halloween's most iconic candy (and its most polarizing) used to be a year-round snack. Then came the candy corn explosion.
A crowd of tourist superimposed over images of Salem attractions and a cemetery.

Salem’s Unholy Bargain: How Tragedy Became an Attraction

Is the cost worth the payoff?

American Spirit: A History of the Supernatural

On the occasion of Halloween, an exploration of previous generations' fascination with ghosts, spirits, and witches.
A picture of an eerie dark house.

This House Is Still Haunted: An Essay In Seven Gables

A spectre is haunting houses—the spectre of possession.
Four soldiers in World War I uniforms pose eating Maillard's Eagle Sweet Chocolate. An eagle is illustrated on the candy bar wrapping.

It Wouldn’t Be Halloween Without Candy. We Have World War I to Thank for That.

Candies of the Halloween season have roots in the sweet treats and real horrors of the Great War.
A witch's hat and crooked stick, with the words "rags to witches"

Has Witch City Lost Its Way?

They’re hip, business-savvy, and know how to cast a spell: How a new generation of witches and warlocks selling $300 wands conquered Salem.

Zombie Flu: How the 1919 Influenza Pandemic Fueled the Rise of the Living Dead

Did mass graves in the influenza pandemic help give rise to the living dead?

Selling Slashers to Teen Girls

The heroines of 1970s and 80s teen horror movies were traditionally feminine, tough, and sexually confident.
Title page and verso of the first edition of "A Christmas Carol."

A Plea to Resurrect the Christmas Tradition of Telling Ghost Stories

Though the practice is now more associated with Halloween, spooking out your family is well within the Christmas spirit.
Black and white sketch of the front of the Mississippi State asylum.

Ghosts are Scary, Disabled People are Not: The Troubling Rise of the Haunted Asylum

Tourist-driven curiosity about the so-called "haunted asylum" has led many to overlook the real people who once were institutionalized within these hospitals.