CONSTELLATIONS by Nick Payne

The touching comedy drama Constellations by Nick Payne premiered at Pepper Theater in May 2022. Have you ever wondered what would’ve happened if you’d said yes instead of no? Would your life be better? worse? the same? In the quantum multiverse, every choice, every decision you’ve ever and never made exists in an unimaginably vast ensemble of parallel universes.

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What Scares Us and Why?

The scary, uncontrollable spirits, ghosts and witches that terrified mankind over millennia had lost their grip by the middle of the 20th century. Yet Halloween just wasn’t complete without things to scare us – and the entertainment industry was ready to fill that need with haunted house theme parks, terrifying movies and unforgettable horror stories in books, magazines and TV serial shows. This final installment of the Halloween story will look at why and under which circumstances we enjoy being scared – and what story elements scare us.

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Modern Day Halloween

Much of the evolution of Halloween celebrations after the Second World War took place in America since most of Europe was focused for many years on economic recovery from near total destruction. Halloween costumes of every imaginable sort could be purchased and parties with amazing baked treats became commonplace. Scary Halloween movies were widely enjoyed and major theme parks created popular spooky haunts to terrify adults and children alike.

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From the British Isles to America

By the early years of the 19th century, much of the religious fervour around Halloween caused by the Reformation had been replaced by games and parties throughout the British Isles to celebrate the end of the harvest and beginning of Winter. The suffering and starvation of millions of people caused by the Great Irish Potato Famine created a flood of immigrants to the United States – immigrants who brought their Halloween celebration customs with them and made them part of the American culture.

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Evolution of Halloween by the Medieval Churches

The story of Halloween took a darker turn in the Middle Ages with the splintering of the Catholic Church and the start of the Reformation. Luther’s refusal to recant his Ninety-Five Theses at the Diet of Worms resulted in his excommunication and the creation of the Protestant Church. Many of the elements of Halloween celebrations we enjoy today began as horrible tortures of women wrongly accused of practicing witchcraft.

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The Christianization of Halloween

The Western Roman Empire was a hostile environment for the early Christian Church until the conversion of Constantine and the Edict of Milan. With that guarantee of religious tolerance, however, the Church expanded rapidly throughout Europe and into what is now the UK and Ireland and encountered once more the Celtic celebrations of the dead. The way in which the Church adapted their customs and festivals to Christian celebrations makes up the next fascinating chapter in the story of Halloween.

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