Monday, October 31, 2016

Time to do the "Thriller Dance"

I've been reading Shelby Foote's The Civil War trilogy which is excellent. My only regret is that I wish he had recorded the audio book; I love his voice.

As I was reading over the weekend, and with Halloween looming, I did a little research on Halloween during the Civil War period.

There's a really interesting article here, by Caroline Davis.  She notes a couple of images that suggest a spooky, autumnal theme to her: one of Jefferson Davis reaping skulls, and Ohio born politician, and Southern sympathizer, Clement L. Vallandigham, as a pumpkin.

Poor Jefferson Davis looks a little like a character in Michael Jackson's Thriller, doesn't he?  Terrible!

I'm not sure if those images were meant to evoke Halloween or just Fall and harvest time, but they certainly can be perceived as spooky.

Certainly the soldiers didn't have time to worry about Halloween!

Blogger Thomas Ruys Smith notes the same two images on his blog and makes the association of pumpkins and Halloween and records its publication date as October 31, 1863.

In truth, Halloween wasn't even a holiday back then and if anyone was aware of the date at all it would simply have been All Hallows Eve, the day before All Saints Day and unless you were Catholic you probably wouldn't have even thought about it.

You can find a fairly complete history of Halloween in America here.  Another history can be found here, and yet another here.

Have a happy Halloween, do the Thriller dance, and grab some candy!

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