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.” https://giphy.com/gifs/vintage-halloween-z8UZbZzCPig2A. (accessed October 30, 2017).

Henry, Andrew. “History of Halloween.” ReligionForBreakfast. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVB5rPfWPtc (accessed October 30, 2017).

Jabaji, Rawan. “Halloween.” Public Broadcasting System. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/five-things/halloween/4594/ (accessed October 30, 2017).

Word of the Week: Parochial

As in:

“Critics have hypothesized that the parochial contraction of horror fiction’s concerns in the post-war years was due to the war’s traumatizing revelation of a human capacity for evil that superseded any imaginable in supernatural fiction” (Dziemianowicz, 1999, p.201). 

Dziemianowicz, S. (1999).Contemporary Horror Fiction, 1950-1998. In Barron, N. (Ed.), Fantasy and horror: a Critical and historical guide to literature, illustration, film, TV, radio, and the internet (pp. 199-343). Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.

For definitions of parochial, consult the Oxford English Dictionary.





Word of the Week: Burnous

As in:

“The moments leading up to the Orient Express’s departure for Europe are crammed especially full of exotic detail, as Lumet provides passersby in turbans, burnouses, fezzes, yarmulkes, and Chinese dress to mingle briefly with the stars”(Leitch, 2002, p. 178). 

Leitch, T. (2002). Crime films. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com.library.emmanuel.edu:2048/lib/emmanuel/detail.action?docID=202033

For definitions of burnous, consult the Oxford English Dictionary.

For images of burnouses see Credo Reference.




Word of the Week: Pedantic

As in:

“It was proven that the food which the characters in the novels eat and the times at which and ways how they eat it shows what kind of people they are, from the fussy and pedantic Poirot with his elaborate menus and sandwiches cut in right angles, and the hedonists Adriadne Oliver and Tuppence with their love of fruits and rich meals…” (Baucekova, 2015, p. 182).               

Baucekova, S. (2015). Dining room detectives: Analysing food in the novels of Agatha Christie. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.library.emmanuel.edu:8443/lib/emmanuel/detail.action?docID=4534678

For definitions of pedantic, consult the Oxford English Dictionary.




October Dispatches: Isn’t It a Pity? The Real Problem with Special Needs

In recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the Cardinal Cushing Library and Learning Commons will be releasing a series of TedTalks. These discussions, released throughout the month via Cardinal Cushing Library and Learning Commons Social Media, will be personal narratives that discuss the views of individuals with disabilities and the people affected individuals with disabilities (e.g. parents and siblings) in contemporary society.

Topics will include: social views of disability, peer-to-peer relationships, parental and sibling experiences with disabilities. Other topics will include: employment, higher education and dating. #EmmanuelOSAMP #InclusionWorks

Today’s talk comes from Torrie Dunlap who discusses the various prisms that society views people with disabilities:


Word of the Week: Opprobrium

Book Cover: Al Franken: Giant of the SenateAs in:
“In late 2005, I told a friend that I was very seriously considering running for the Senate.
‘Why would you do that?’ he asked incredulously.
‘Well,’ I said, ‘I think I could accomplish a lot. And what do I really have to risk?’
My friend looked dubious. ‘Um, public opprobrium?’” (Franken, 2017, p.63).

Franken, A. (2017). Al Franken, Giant of the Senate. New York: Twelve, 2017.

Word of the Week: Prescient

As in: “With Young’s prescient book [The Rise of Meritocracy] in mind, the historian Jerome Karabel has summed up the history of selective college admissions as a ‘history of recurrent struggles over the meaning of “merit”‘” (Delbanco, 2012, p.126).

Delbanco, A. (2012). College: What it was, is, and should be. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

May 17, 1954: Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas


In a major civil rights victory, the U.S. Supreme Court decides in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka that racial segregation in public educational facilities is unconstitutional. The decision brought an end to de jure tolerance of racial segregation. The case dealt with Linda Brown, a young African American girl who had been denied admission to her local elementary school in Topeka, Kansas, because race. Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954) overturned Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) that ruled “separate but equal” accommodations in railroad cars conformed to the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection. That ruling was used to justify segregating all public facilities, including elementary schools.

African American lawyer (and future Supreme Court justice) Thurgood Marshall led Linda Brown’s legal and argued that the white school she attempted to attend was far superior to her black alternative and miles closer to her home. In a unanimous decision the Supreme Court ruled the “separate but equal” doctrine unconstitutional because educational segregation stamped an inherent badge of inferiority on African American students.

Word of the Week: Intrepid

As in: “Women were seen as intrepid frontier heroes, even goddesses in the wilderness—provided they had modern equipment” (Rugh, 2008, p.126-7).          WoW_intrepid

Rugh, S. S. (2008). Are we there yet?: the Golden age of American family vacations. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas.

For definitions of intrepid, consult the Oxford English Dictionary.

Whatever your plans, the Cardinal Cushing Library staff wishes you a Summer break full of intrepid adventuring!