Monday, May 23, 2011

Best Ghost Stories 1800-1849 Scary Story 30 is "All Souls' Eve" by Joseph Stowe


When researching scary stories for any fifty year period of the modern age, Halloween has to figure into the equation at some point. This is one of them. To fully understand the title of the ghost story I picked for spot 30 of the Top 40 for the first half of the nineteenth century, a background in how the Halloween name was derived is helpful.

It all starts with All Souls' Day, this is the traditional day when the living remember and pray for the souls of the dead. The day is still celebrated in parts of Europe and Mexico (Day of the Dead). Often food is left for the dead and candles lit in the windows so the ghosts can find their way. All Souls' Day is one of love and remembrance. Easy enough.

But then All Souls' Eve began to come into pagan fashion. On this night before All Souls' Day the evil dead return to earth. These ghosts are not out for a good meal, but to exact revenge. All Souls' Eve was also called Hallow Evening and eventually the words were put together to form Hallow'en. In one part of the legend, any person who came in contact with ghosts on Halloween and left a piece of their clothing behind, would be sure to die.


That brings us to scary story 30, which is All Souls' Eve. Published in 1839 by Joseph Stowe in his collection titled The Rhine, Legends, Traditions, History from Cologne to Mainz. The ghost story is derived from German legend and it is the first in the English language to address the clothing issue described above. Enjoy this congregation of the dead!

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