It’s scary how our consumer culture latches on to a spooky cultural tradition and manages to find ways to make it economically viable. That being said, I am excited about all the leftover mini-snickers bars I am going to have this year.
I thought it appropriate to try and find some sort of anthropological explanation of the origin of this frightful holiday. And i’ll be darned If I didn’t find an entire dissertation; well, a very thorough and interesting article from 1998 that was published in the Washington Post AND co-authored by one of my favorite practicing consumer anthropologists – Patricia Sunderland.
The link to the article is here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/horizon/oct98/hallo101498.htm but the full text is below for your convenience. This is a treat, not a trick. Go grab a pumpkin’ spice latte and hunker down-this is a good one:
Halloween, perhaps our weirdest annual celebration, is even stranger than it…
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Customs that the church qualified as heathen and sinful and had to be contested were:
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North Korea’s new leader, Kim Jong Un, is cleaning house in the upper echelons of his army. The 29-year-old totalitarian dictator reportedly executed one of his most senior generals this past week for drinking alcohol, according to an article on the Daily Telegraph. The story reports that the Hermit Kingdom is still in a period of mourning following the death of the previous leader, Kim Jong Il. As such, the consumption of booze is prohibited. Astonishingly, the execution was carried out not by a firing squad but by a mortar crew. The disgraced army vice minister was ordered to be “obliterated” by a precision-fired mortar round. North Korea has a history of executing generals (and executing them in bizarre ways). In the late 1990s, a group of DPRK generals who were suspected of treason were doused with gasoline and burned alive before a capacity crowd at Pyongyang’s May Day…
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A new article from the BBC describes tentative plans for burying the skeleton exhumed from a parking lot near Bosworth, where King Richard III met his violent end in battle. Examination of the bones has yielded evidence of injuries consistent with those known to have caused his death. The spine reveals scoliosis, which may explain the claim that Richard was “hunchbacked”. Current plans, if DNA testing confirms that the skeleton is Richard’s, call for re-interring him in Leicester Cathedral, close to the place he died. Some are criticizing that idea, however, because the king had expressed his wish to be buried at York Minster.
I favor York, myself…. I know they’ll take that into consideration.
In a similar act of heritage vandalism to the one reported below in China, a retired businessman has been found guilty of causing unprecedented damage earlier this year to one of Britain’s ancient Neolithic sites. 73 year-old Roger Penny bought the Priddy Circles in Somerset as a ‘pension investment’. The Circles, which date to 3,000bce, are a Scheduled Ancient Monument and were probably built around the same time as Stonehenge. The Mail Online reports yesterday that –
They [the Priddy Circles] have been described by English Heritage as ‘probable Neolithic ritual or ceremonial monuments similar to a henge’. Penny hired two contractors to ‘tidy’ and renovate the area, near the village of Priddy on Somerset’s Mendip Hills, but failed to get permission from English Heritage. One contractor used rubble to fill swallet holes, natural holes inside the ring which may be the key to its creation. Moving a gate led…
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Confirmation that bones found in a tomb in Magdeburg Cathedral, Germany, are of a Saxon princess, the oldest English royal remains to be found. The bones are part of the body of the Saxon princess Eadgyth, the granddaughter of King Alfred the Great, who died more than 1,000 years ago.
The tomb where they were found was first investigated in 2009, but it was then believed the bones had been moved. Two years ago German archaeologists opened the tomb, expecting it to be empty, but found it contained a lead box with the inscription, “The remains of Queen Eadgyth are in this sarcophagus”. The bones were inside, wrapped in silk.
The latest techniques have been used by experts from the University of Mainz and the University of Bristol to analyze the bones and some teeth found in the upper jaw. It was discovered they belonged to a female who died aged between…
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So there I was the other day, driving home from work, caught in traffic, stuck behind a car whose exhaust system needed serious attention. As I wrinkled my nose and said, “Eew, gross” the thought hit me: We like to think that we live in a pristine, modern world that smells sweet while looking back in time and assuming everything stank like sewage all the time. But did it?
Uneducated modern thinkers might assume that because there was no running water in the Middle Ages everything was dirty and smelly. Well, if you’ve known me and heard me talk about history long enough then you know that nothing galls me more than this completely false assumption. As I discussed at length last year in my blog post about how medieval people did bath, frequently, hygiene was far more advanced a thousand years ago than modern people assume.
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