Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween History: Pumpkins, Costumes, and Future Husbands Revealed

While Halloween has been celebrated in America since the days of colonial New England, the holiday didn't enjoy widespread popularity until the mid-to-late nineteenth century. As new waves of European immigrants began to arrive in the U.S., so did their traditions: Halloween disguises, pranks and trick-or-treating all have origins in Ireland and England.

American kids still expect costumes and candy on October 31st, but another more grown-up Halloween tradition has been forgotten. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, young women looked forward to annual romantic predictions on this day. As the New York Times described it in 1892, Halloween provided an opportunity to use "various devices for piercing the veil of futurity".

In 1929, the Times reported that "Many [Halloween] charms are still tried in the rural United States...a girl will go into the cellar backwards, carrying a candle, a mirror and an apple. While she combs her hair and eats the apple, the face of her future husband will appear beside her in the mirror"

Postcard c.1900-1909, Courtesy the NY Public Library

Though American women are more practical about finding husbands these days, this trick might be worth a try if fails you. Happy Halloween!

1 comment:

  1. How cool is that! Untill now I had no idea that in that night we can see our future husbands.. :))Cool beans! :D Can't wait next year to see mine.. =))


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