The traditions of Halloween have changed a great deal over the centuries. From pagan celebrations to Christian holy days, and from a day of pranks and carousing to kiddies trick-or-treating, October 31st has meant many different things to people.
At the turn of the 20th Century (i.e. 1900), what is little known is that Halloween was almost as popular as Valentine’s Day for unmarried women to locate their future husband. Food was often connected to the divining process. Don’t believe me. Read it for yourself, as I present stories written 109 years ago today.
From: Boston Post, Tuesday, October 29, 1907
WITCHING HALLOWEEN NEAR–OLD MAIDS HOPEFUL–DREAMLAND POPULAR
—–SADIE SAD LAST YEAR; SHE’S HOPEFUL AGAIN—–
SAUGUS, Oct 28.–For 25 years past Miss Sadie Small has been waving an apple peel over her shoulder on Halloween, diligently examining it for the initials of her future husband. For 22 years this method of acquiring a helpmate has failed. But Sadie is ever hopeful, and, notwithstanding the unfortunate experience of last year, she is going to try it again next Thursday night.
Upon the last occasion, she purchased the nicest apple she could find, a pippin. She peeled it most carefully and was careful to see that there was not a break in the skin. Then at midnight she waved it once around her head and allowed it to fall over her left shoulder as the ancient formula prescribes.
For the first time in her life two distinct initials formed.–N.D.
The delighted woman woke her old mother out of a sound sleep to tell her the gladsome news, and the two spent a full hour trying to locate the man who bore the initials. They failed.
Next day Miss Sadie consulted a fortune teller, who, after collecting $1, told her that the initials meant “Nothing Doing.” It was quite so. Still there is a chance this year even if the apple crop is short.
—–SALT BISCUIT DREAMS ARE FINE FORECASTS—–.
SCITUATE, Oct 28.–Halloween is the time usually selected by young women of the south shore to dip into the future and get a line on their matrimonial prospects.
Of all the methods the salt biscuit is without doubt the most efficacious. In tempting fate the girls bake a cake in which one-half the ingredients is salt. This is eaten early in the evening, and in the course of an hour or two a thirst is acquired that some men would not part with for $50.
Naturally there are dreams of water, and if the conditions are right the young woman sees a vision of her affinity handing her a glass of cold water.
The next day she hunts up some friend of the youth and related the wonderful dream, and if he takes any stock in fate he promptly proposes and the pair live happily ever after.
But should the dream picture her in a boat and the craft is upset, then the young woman weeps and counts all bets off.