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Halloween Changes Its Disguise: Has the Witching Season Grown Up?

Evening Lecture

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Monday, October 27, 2014 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1L0057
S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Drive, SW
Metro: Smithsonian Mall Exit (Blue/Orange)
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Holiday scholar and Smithsonian program manager Daniel Gifford transports us back 100 years to reveal a surprisingly tricky side to Halloween. Drawing on a variety of images, including now-forgotten Halloween postcards, he conjures up a picture of a very different holiday.

Gifford shows how courtship rituals were part of the holiday’s observance; that questions of love and lust circulated; and that cupids came out to play among the more familiar bats, cats, and owls. Images of buxom witches and swooning cherubs lead to a larger discussion of the social status of women at a time when words like suffrage and the possibility of social change were scaring a lot of people.

Find out how Halloween—among other things—has evolved over the intervening 100 years as new ideas were stirred into the ever-bubbling witches’ brew.