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October 9, 2012
The Advertiser-Tribune

Relatively recent research has suggested Irish novelist Bram Stoker knew little about the history of Vlad III, better known as Vlad the Impaler and a figure long considered to be the inspiration for the titular character in Stoker's famous novel Dracula. In fact, historians consider Stoker's work the culmination of a series of works that were inspired by growing tales of vampirism that were coming from Hungary and the Balkans, rather than history associated with Vlad III. The book's relationship with Vlad III likely stems from geography and little else. Vlad III might have died centuries before stories of vampirism started to spread, but he did live in the region where such tales spread wildly. Centuries later, when Stoker was penning his tale of the vampire Count Dracula, it makes sense he would have set the story in the region where Vlad III lived. What's more, Vlad III's reputation for ruthlessness makes him a natural source of inspiration, even if Stoker knew little about Vlad III beyond that brutal reputation.

The present incarnation of Halloween borrows traditions from four different festivals throughout history. These include the Roman "Feralia" festival, honoring the dead; the Roman "Pomona" festival, honoring the goddess of fruit and trees; the Celtic festival of "Samuin," which celebrates the end of summer; and the Catholic "Hallowmas" period of All Saints' Day. The name Halloween comes from the Middle English "All Hallows Eve (evening)," which was shortened to Hallowe'en, and then to Halloween in the 20th century.



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