Halloween is almost here. It’s a day where children have an excuse to go around asking for chocolates, and spooky decorations and costumes come out of their boxes and closets. But did you know the backstory of some Halloween stories and legends?
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Here, we explore three spooky, and sometimes creepy, Halloween myths and stories:
1. Mary Shelley’s secret heart
English novelist Mary Shelley is known around the world as the author of the terrifying fiction novel, Frankenstein. But she had skeletons in her closet that are not as well-known as her book. According to History.com, Shelley’s husband, Percy, drowned at the age of 29 when his boat was caught in a storm in July 1822. His body, and those of other sailors, were found 10 days later. While they were all cremated, Percy’s heart did not burn – some speculate it was because of a bout of tuberculosis he went through earlier in his life. Shelley eventually took possession of her late husband’s heart, and is said to have carried it around in a silk bag!
2. Fear of zombies
Before doctors were able to explain how tuberculosis (or consumption, as it was called) spread, the disease had claimed the lives of entire families in various parts of New England in the 19th century. After seeing hundreds of deaths, hopeless villagers began to believe those who died from consumption returned to prey upon their living family members (pictured above). This belief led to the grisly practice of digging up the dead and burning their internal organs – to make sure they remained deceased.
3. Abraham Lincoln’s ghost
Of all the places in the world, we wouldn’t expect the White House, in the US, to have ghosts. But for decades, presidents, first ladies, guests and staff members have reported they have either seen the 16th US President Abraham Lincoln or felt his presence. Grace Coolidge, wife of the 30th US President Calvin Coolidge, was the first to see Lincoln’s ghost. She said he stood at the window of the Oval Office, hands behind his back, gazing outside – still stately and elegant in his ethereal form.