Monday, October 29, 2012

Countdown to Halloween: "'Twas the Night of All Hallows", Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 1865

It's the first Halloween after the Civil War - and is a changing Halloween sensibility discernible in the way that the Brooklyn Daily Eagle marked the day?

On the one hand, their coverage of the day is strikingly familiar to anyone who's been around for the other posts in this countdown: they describe the "peculiar character" of the day with reference to its "supernatural influences", and dwell at length on the love "spells" still popularly associated with day - while referencing Burns. But that conventional account of the day is followed by something a little more intriguing: titled "A Thrilling Narrative", it's actually a Halloween parody of the 1823 - and, evidently, already iconic - poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" - better known by its first line, "'Twas the Night Before Christmas...". Simultaneously rather horrible - love spells go bad - and surprisingly nostalgic (?) it's certainly an intriguing read. The Brooklyn Public Library's digitised archive of the Daily Eagle is great but a little difficult to link to, so if this link doesn't work directly, go to the home page and search by date for the October 31st 1865 edition. Here's the poem in full though - enjoy...

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