Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Witches, black cats, jack o’lanterns, ghosts, and goblins will herald the arrival of Halloween, a holiday whose roots stem from ancient religious Pagan rituals of the Celts. What are the historical origins of this traditional holiday? Is this merely a time for kids to go trick-or-treating? To learn some of the intriguing and folkloric facts surrounding this holiday from a scholarly perspective, check out the JSTOR database:

1. Go to the SFPL Home Page and select “Articles & Databases.” You will need a San Francisco Public Library card to access the databases from outside the Library.

2. Under the “Articles and News” category, select the JSTOR database.

3. Select “Search” and enter the phrase “Halloween in America” (in quotes) into the search box.

Below is a citation and excerpt from one of the articles:

"Halloween in America: Contemporary Customs and Performances," Jack Santino, Western Folklore, Vol. 42, No. 1 (Jan., 1983), pp. 1-20.

“Halloween in America is a very popular holiday marked by a great deal of expressive culture which calls attention to itself and the day to which it belongs.”

The JSTOR database contains full-text articles in various academic disciplines dating back from 1838 to three years ago. Subject areas include art, business, health, language and literature, music, science, and more.

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