Salem: Coming to Peace with The Witch City

Just in time for Halloween weekend, Kristina Stevick, artistic director of Gordon’s History Alive! considers (in her recent Faith + Ideas = column) how the spooky, zany holiday shouldn’t be the only thing Salem, Massachusetts, is known for. (Her editorial column was also reprinted in The Salem News.)

By Kristina Stevick  Salem, Massachusetts, where I work, is a city with a complicated personality. She absorbs the historians, artists, college students, ministers, preservationists, Wiccans, psychics, and mediums who live here, and beckons about a million visitors per year.

Halloween (October 31) to locals is not a day, but a “season,” and during the other four, Salem is still “Witch City.” The broom-straddling hag, vixen, or sweetie—depending on your perspective—is the official emblem of cop and high school athlete alike. Though Salem is also a world-class destination for art and culture, a stunning seaside community and a showplace of antique architecture, the witch on the broom has practically jabbed the Sumatran pepper trader off the city seal.

I imagine John Winthrop, the Massachusetts Bay Company’s first governor, might be surprised. When he admonished the migrating English colonists to be “a city on a hill, the eyes of all the world upon [them],” his sermon outlined how their New Jerusalem could be A Model of Christian Charity:

Read the rest of her recent Faith +Ideas= column here.

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