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.