Halloween has its history and its devilish deviations
If you want to get a true picture of Halloween, look at your neighbourhood’s lawn displays, not the costumes the kids are wearing when they knock on your door tonight.
“The big thing today is Barbie,” she says. “But if you look at people’s front lawns, there is much more of the classic representation of the undead and our fears of restless spirits.”
There are countless takes on where Halloween originated—Kilburn’s involves the influences of the Celts, and the pre-Christian, pre-Roman Sam Hain or samhain (pronounced SAW-in) end of harvest festival when the veil of the living and of the dead is lifted.
As an anthropologist, Kilburn’s research combines history, sociology, archaeology, psychology, political science and folklore studies. We asked where some Halloweenish hallmarks originated.
Pumpkin: Jack the Trickster (Jack-o’-lantern) was sent to purgatory and needed a pumpkin (or in Ireland, a potato) to hold an ember the devil gave him to light his way.
Why do we celebrate the dead?: We’re celebrating the relationship we have with the dead.
Costumes: People disguised themselves to hide from the spirits.
Trick or treating: Souling. Going door to door, asking for soul cakes for children. “A component of alms giving, to build merit for loved ones stuck in purgatory.”
Witches: “I think it has something to do with witches being able to communicate with the dead.”
Cats: “Witches and cats go hand-in-hand.”
Students from Kilburn’s class will host a pop-up exhibit at the Royal BC Museum on Nov. 4 entitled Loving Ancestors and Restless Ghosts.
BC Ferries’ sailings to Victoria from Vancouver will be 15 minutes longer on the Coastal Celebration, which for mechanical reasons, will sail south of Active Pass, for the next four weeks.
Give your input on bus route changes for the 11 (Tillicum/UVic), 9 (Royal Oak/UVic), 24 (Cedar Hill/Tillicum), & 25 (Maplewood/Tillicum).
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Vancouver Tech Journal is back, bringing another global leader to the mainland. Join them this Friday, for an intimate evening with Sahil Bloom and Victoria’s Andrew Wilkinson.
And if you’re thinking of flying over, get in touch for their special rate with Harbour Air!
“Canada’s most haunted city”: Victoria’s paranormal preoccupation
Empress Hotel, one of the world’s most haunted hotels. Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily
A City of Victoria walking tour pamphlet boasts that this city has “more ghost stories associated with it than any other city in British Columbia.” Even just a single building at Camosun has an extensive lore of paranormal stories and theories, and the Empress has once again placed on Conde Nast’s list of the world’s most haunted hotels.
In Halloween 2021, the Capital Daily Podcast brought in local historian and Ghostly Walks owner John Adams to share his favourites from among those many ghost stories tied to the buildings of Victoria, and around the harbour in particular.
We also spoke the previous year with Brennan Storr of the local Ghost Story Guys podcast about scary stories, ghosts in Victoria, and how to haunt people when you die.
Then last year we wrote about The Haunting of Vancouver Island, author Shanon Sinn’s focus on the darker side of Island ghost stories: The fact that real historical figures and Indigenous communities become cheap “Halloween props” in fabricated stories.
Those aren’t the only negative effects that dubious local paranormal tales have had. In the 1980s, they sparked an international panic.
In bestselling book Michelle Remembers, a local woman told her psychiatrist (and future husband) of numerous “repressed memories” of disturbing cult rituals, abuses, and even murder in 1950s Victoria—but the facts never lined up.
🎭 Pacific Opera's 23/24 season is in full swing! See Golijov’s Ainadamar in February and Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro in April. Two show combo from $50, single tickets from $30. Get yours today!*
👻 Spooktacular family care. With a specialized team and a focus on prevention, Sprout offers a new kind of healthcare experience for families. No tricks, just treats.*
Van Island residential school memorial carving completes trip
The 5.5-metre artwork of a series of unsmiling children’s faces was carved by Stanley C. Hunt, from Tsaxis (Fort Rupert) near Port Hardy. It will be displayed at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que., just across the Ottawa River from Parliament Hill. [Victoria News]
Nanaimo’s 5 options for historic Five Acre Farm
The farm is the last of the plots once set out for coal miners, and it offers agricultural and school programs on its protected land. It was shielded from development four years ago, but the housing crisis could change all of that. [CHEK]
It’s even harder carving a pumpkin underwater
Just ask any of the dozen divers who on Sunday participated in a charity event at Esquimalt Lagoon. The divers had to submerge with a pristine pumpkin and surface with it carved. Turns out gourds get buoyantly floaty but once punctured, supply some fresh fish food. [Times Colonist]
Nanaimo couple’s love story inspired by Halloween connection
It was love at first fright for the couple who met while dressed as Ace Ventura Pet Detective and a gory, blood-covered zombie at a Halloween party. Now known to their neighbours for having a must-see home on Halloween night, the couple’s relationship centres around spooky costumes, themed photo shoots and even a cat named Boo. [CTV]
🎤 Joni Mitchell musical returns to the Belfry Theatre, opening tonight at 7:30pm. [Info]
🕯️ Are You Afraid of the Madness: Dance party at Capital Ballroom, tonight at 10pm. [Info]
📽️ Halloween classics double feature: Cinecenta will screen The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (restored) and The Bride of Frankenstein. [Info]