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What Halloween Masks

This article is part 3 of 8 in the column Flights of Fancy

Logo: Flights Of Fancy by Cindy Dell Clark, PHD with flying owl

 

 

October 31st is America’s curious anomaly.  On October’s last day, as trees defoliate and nature ebbs towards the deadness of winter, parents mark the day by lifting  prohibitions.  From sugar treats to stranger visiting, what is usually forbidden falls within kids’ reach.  That day children lampoon adults, dressing up in roles of mature power (princesses, firemen, astronauts, pirates); kids arrive at strangers’ doorsteps and ceremonially threaten the grown-ups within with a veiled threat, “trick or treat.”  Without further ado  adults  hand over candy, normally a controlled substance in children’s lives. Read more

Flagged: Children on July 4th

This article is part 2 of 8 in the column Flights of Fancy

Logo: Flights Of Fancy by Cindy Dell Clark, PHD with flying owl

 

 

During the years 2005 to 2012, when I conducted research on July 4th family rituals, the United States imported — mostly from China — over $32,000,000 worth of American flags.  These flags testify to and plot the vigorous ceremonial life of the American nation-state:  decorating military veterans graves’ at Memorial Day and the caskets of war dead from Afghanistan and Iraq, waving atop flag poles in front of schools and inside classrooms, at capitals and public buildings.  In public places, flags are daily raised and later lowered, raised only at half mast to honor the passing of revered Americans. Read more

Reindeer Magic

This article is part 1 of 8 in the column Flights of Fancy

Logo: Flights Of Fancy by Cindy Dell Clark, PHD with flying owl

Mythology is a living entity of culture in which cross-generational discourse can play a lively role. American Christmas and its Santa Claus mythology are a case in point. My early fieldwork on Santa Claus (conducted in the Midwest in the late 80s) showed that children’s perceptions of Santa and his reindeer carried impact on how family ritual was carried out. This is how I wrote about this issue in the book Flights of Fancy, Leaps of Faith (University of Chicago Press, 1995) as specifically applied to Santa’s red-nosed reindeer, Rudolph. Read more

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