Category Archives: Holiday

A Brief History of Halloween

While the origins of Halloween are not entirely clear, is definitely intertwined with religious practices and celebrations of the past. Wiccan and Pagan groups are amongst largest groups who celebrate the holiday, while some Christian groups fear that demonic activity increases around this time of the year. A pre-Christian Celtic holiday called Samhain is thought by many to be the precursor to the holiday, Halloween, we celebrate today. It is difficult to completely trace its origins, as it was Christianized in the fourth or fifth century; we are unsure today what traditions and ideologies were added on because of this. Samhain was a day of heightened spiritual activity, and they believed that fairies, spirits, and souls of the dead could pass through their world to ours much easier that day. To protect themselves from these spirits and possible demons, the Celts would build massive bonfires, they would burn crops, and they wore costumes to ward off the spirits.

giphy[2]However, the Halloween we know today is a concoction of several different, borrowed traditions; many rituals of Halloween we see today are derived from times later than that of Samhain. In the 600s, Pope Boniface IV named November 1st All Saints’ Day to honor saints and martyrs. Some believe that picking that day was deliberately meant; they wanted to Christianize Samhain, which happened just the day before. Despite this coincidence, it is not clear if this was the intention. On All Saints’ Day, people would dress up, possibly to ward off spirits they thought were coming back from the dead. At this time, people in England went around and practiced “souling”, a practice in which they would ask for food and in return would give them a prayer for the dead. This is a possible precursor for trick-or-treating, especially because as time progressed, people would give out the soulers sweet “soul cakes”, mimicking the candy we get today. These are only possible origins for Halloween, as its true ones are not entirely certain or uncovered yet.

Works Cited:

Giphy. “Vintage Halloween.” (accessed October 30, 2017).

Henry, Andrew. “History of Halloween.” ReligionForBreakfast. (accessed October 30, 2017).

Jabaji, Rawan. “Halloween.” Public Broadcasting System. (accessed October 30, 2017).

Word of the Week: Acolytes

As in: “The twentieth century marked the appearance of the second element in our hybrid union of acolytes and aficionados. This was the organized groups of admirers, under the wide umbrella of mass commercial entertainment, attached to specific entertainers, works of literature or film, or sports clubs and players” (Nelson, 2012, p. 51).bookcovergothicka

Nelson, V. (2012). Gothicka: Vampire heroes, human gods, and the new supernaturalCambridge: Harvard University Press.

In Honor of Flag Day

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“We identify the flag with almost everything we hold dear on earth, peace, security, liberty, our family, our friends, our home… But when we look at our flag and behold it emblazoned with all our rights we must remember that it is equally a symbol of our duties. Every glory that we associate with it is the result of duty done.”

— Calvin Coolidge

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, January 18, 2016

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart…’”[1]

Join the Cardinal Cushing Library in remembering and celebrating the great civil rights activist and leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In addition to the wide array of print and e-book resources available be sure to check out the following databases for more information. Please see each resource’s listing for details on search terms and filters. The Reference Librarians are always happy to assist with your searching.


Remembering Dr. King’s emphasis on service to others, Emmanuel’s Mission & Ministry and the Office of Multicultural Programs are co-sponsoring a MLK Jr. Day of Service on Saturday, January 23rd, at various Boston sites. If you are interested, please RSVP to Deirdre Bradley-Turner ( via email by Wednesday, January 20th.

[1]King, M.L. (1968). The Drum Major Instinct: A Sermon by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Atlanta, GA: Ebenezer Baptist Church. Retrieved from:

Word of the Week: Aegis

As in: “The moral fortification of the home—under the aegis of Book Cover: Thanksgivingthe enlightened homemaker—against the rough-and-ready masculine world of business and politics became a dominant middle-class fixation in the antebellum period” (Baker, 2009, p. 79).

Baker, J. W. (2009). Thanksgiving: The biography of an American holiday.  Durham, NH: University of New Hampshire Press.

Observing Memorial Day

Explore the Library of Congress’s Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans.

Search the United States Department of Veterans Affairs Nationwide Gravesite Locator for burial locations of veterans and their family members.

Attend the 66th annual Boston Memorial Day Service, Saturday May 26 11am-1pm at Sgt. Charles A. MacGillvary Veterans Memorial Park.

Patriot’s Day Weekend Events


Friday April 13, 2012

Fenway Park  100 Year Home Opener Celebration

Click  HERE for more information.  


 Sat-Mon April 14-16, 2012

Patriot’s Day – Minute Man Park Events

Click  HERE for more information.


  Monday April 16, 2012

  116th Boston Marathon

  Click  HERE for more information.