In my opinion, the great irony of Salem is that while zero of the people accused and executed during the Witch Trials of 1692 were actually witches, Salem is now home to the largest concentration of witches in the whole country. There are estimated to be more than 30 witch covens in this little town. Real witches, generally pagan practitioners of a religion known as "Wicca", now openly run shops, practice magic, organize parades and rallies, worship in their own churches, and even hold a strong voice in local politics. Witches come from all over the country on pilgrimages and to attend conventions here. There are annual witches balls, festivals, and psychic fairs. They even have their own school academy!
October 31, although called "Halloween" for most of us, is called "Samhain" to witches. It's their New Year's Sabbath and hundreds of them from far and wide gather on Gallows Hill to hold a candlelight vigil for those killed in 1692.
Laurie Cabot, a resident in her late 70s, is the "Offical Witch of Salem", a title bestowed on her 30 years ago by Governor Michael Dukasis. She's also known as the "world's most famous witch" and is responsible for starting many of the Wiccan organizations in Salem.
So, witchcraft is serious business here! You're completely surrounded by them. Please keep that in mind if you have staunch religious beliefs and think twice before you make any open disparaging remarks or make fun of the lifestyle.
Personally, I don't really understand why all these witches flocked here because if I knew of a town that had a habit of killing tall people, I certainly wouldn't want to move there.
How many witches are in "the Witch City"? That's a good question. ...Lots!
You simply cannot go to Salem on Halloween and not do something scary! Luckily the organizers of Salem's haunted Happenings think so too, so there is no shortage of haunted houses or tours to do. We asked at the ticket counter which was the scariest of all. She said without hesitation that it was the Hall of Illusions. When you get to the door they hand you a pair of 3D glasses to wear though the dark maze. Lots of painted images "pop" out at you as well as some scary guys in costumes. In my opinion it was way to short. Definately "$7 was too much to pay" short. If you get package deals of more than one haunted adventure, the price goes down. I would definately suggest doing a bunch of haunted attractions as just one is not enough!!!
2005 update-This year we did 2 haunted houses, Hall of Illusions again, and the Haunted Witch Village across the street. We had a great time! This time we had Lou's sister with us who scares easily, so much fun to watch!
Both are located on Derby Street in the center of town.
This is one town that's it's okay to be different! We celebrate All souls day or Halloween as you may know it.
During the month of October is Salem's Haunted Happenings Halloween Festival. You can pick up a brochure at most establishments in Salem for a calendar and discribtion of all the events happening during the month or check out their Website. We went this past year (the last week before Halloween), and although it rained all day, we still had fun. Check out the different tips and the travelogue for pictures!
In 2005 we celebrate with a month of activities and kicked off the month long festival with a parade for the children. [and of course the adults] near the first of October. Starting at dusk, we walk down town from our house to avoid the traffic & parking delima. It's a nice walk and it was a beautiful day! Such a fun parade it is also!
I did enjoy the Witch Museum which shows what happened back in the 1600s.
But there is more to visiting Salem than witches and Halloween.
Still go in and learn why the town is famous.
Did you know for example that the last witch trial in England was in 1944 and she was sent to jail for nine months?
Its all here 52 weeks of the year not just late October.
As the day turns into night, the family's start to head home and the die hard Halloweenies come out to put on an amazing show of costumes. Many of them attend the annual Costume ball at the Hawthorne Hotel, and many of them are just out and about, dancing in the streets, going to haunted houses..ect. You don't HAVE to wear a costume, but it definately adds to the fun of Halloween.
Contrary to what many believe, the modern practice of witchcraft does not involve evil and spells. The word witch has another important definition. Practitioners of the religion of Witchcraft or Wicca trace their beliefs to pre-Christian times. Theirs is a nature-based religion which pays homage to a Father God and Mother Goddess. They recognize no personification of evil and disassociate themselves entirely from the 17th-century definition of witchcraft.
The Salem witchcraft museum seeks to educate visitors on this often misunderstood practice and to promote tolerance of these practices. The witches information bureau and The Witches League for Public Awareness, both active in Salem, also seek to promote public awareness about what witchcraft is or isn't
Please remember that there are many modern-day practitioners of witchcraft in Salem. They are called Wiccans and they take their faith seriously. As a tourist, please be respectful and don't joke about this stuff. Halloween is considered the New Year for Wiccans, and they celebrate a solstice feast called Samhain (which is not pronounced at all the way it looks, more like sa-wen or sel-win). While the tourists are celebrating Halloween in the streets downtown, the real Wiccans are having a big rally up at what is believed to be the site of Gallows Hill (it's an athletic field nowadays). They celebrate a Samhain ritual during which they chant things like 'So mote it be!' and 'Never again!' (meaning no more persecution like back in 1692), after which they wish each other a happy New Year. Following this is a police-escorted parade back to the Charter Street Burial Ground where the names of the executed witchcraft suspects are inscribed in stone. The marchers continue to chant 'Never again!' because they hope that the future will bring the end of prejudice against Wiccans. I'm not a Wiccan myself, but I've been to a couple of these events, and they are powerful, moving ceremonies indeed!
Look up from the red line as you walk around Salem and you might see something a little interesting in the trees. No idea why but it's pretty
Need an adult beverage? All locals know the best place to get beer, wine and spirits is Bunghole Liquors.
Yes, Bunghole liquors