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Weekender: Halloween - A Time for Frivolous Fun or for Menacing Manifestations?

As the economic opportunities of this annual tradition are exploited more with every passing year, Halloween has become a time of feasting, fun-filled frights, and fancy-dressed festivities. According to the Indo-European Etymological Dictionaries, the origins of All Hallows' Eve are commonly held to date back around two thousand years to a pre-Christian Celtic festival known as Samhain, or "Summer's End," held to acknowledge the passing of the season of summer and the approach of the dark winter months. Samhain, pronounced sow-en or saw-win, was usually celebrated on 31st October or 1st November.

‘From the earliest records, Samhain is seen not simply as a day for the dead but when the dead might reach out to the living.’
What draws us to the darker side? What compels us to look whenever we pass a grisly accident on the highway and drives us to watch horror movies and television coverage of disasters? Eric G. Wilson, a literature professor and a lifelong student of the macabre, set out to discover the source of people’s attraction to the morbid, drawing o...

Do black cats, bats and witches have you on the run not just at Halloween but year-round? Do you always avoid walking under ladders and stepping on sidewalk cracks?

These behaviors can all be linked to a strong belief that has been embedded in human history -- superstitions, according to a Kansas State University professor.
...

IN WHITLEY'S JOURNAL

We have reached the climate tipping point much more quickly than anybody anticipated. But with methane outgassing in arctic tundra and beginning to boil up from under the Arctic Ocean, Greenland ice turning black due to lack of snowfall, and rapid warming of northern waters, the stage is set.

Nobody has any idea when dramatic changes will overtake us, but the form they will likely take is beco...
Halloween, the time when we lure strangely-clad strangers to our homes by lighting lanterns in our windows, and offering them food and welcome at our doors.

This tradition is firmly associated with the celebration of ghosties and ghoulies and long-legged beasties and things that go bump in the night, but does it also fulfil some deep-...

We all love a good monster movie, don't we, even if it's viewed with just one eye open from behind the safety of our sofas?

Year after year, Hollywood favourites such as Count Dracula and the Wolfman, and other classic fiendish figures continue to draw crowds of eager horror-movie-lovers. But when and where did our preoccupation with...

IN ANNE'S DIARY

When we visited a producer recently, we were surprised to discover that his office contained a proud display of all the sort of furniture Whitley and I grew up with—circa around 1957. There was a dining table with chairs that looked like they were out of the old cartoon show the Jetsons, and framed fifties movie posters. I remember when my dad, who was certainly no esthete, painted our refrigerator turqu...

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