Some of the most favorite games of the Victorian era were Halloween Games. It was a time to let go and have lots of fun ... whether the spooky, ghost story kind or the foretelling of each person's future ... it didn't make any difference. There was always something for everyone.
The following article was written in 1894. Many of the games described are those which we still associate with Halloween today but there are others that are, well... a bit questionable as to their safety and others which are jun fun. If you choose to try some of these games, be sure to put safety first... you'll know exactly what I'm talking about once you read the article, I'm sure!
The author of this article is Anna Hinrichs and it was published in the October issue of The Housekeeper. It has, of course, been edited for use on this site.
TRADITIONS of this ancient festival of Halloween assert that this night will reveal to the impatient their future, with much of its woe and joy. Supernatural powers prevail. Witches, imps, fairies, mischief-loving sprites hold their annual midnight revels. Spirits reign on this mystic night, and are supposed to come from invisible realms, in response to the call of curious mortal. Although" heaven from all creatures hides the hook of fate," mankind seems possessed of a passion for prying into the future.
Lovesick youths or maidens, who are wavering or in doubt, are eager to test the charms of Halloween. Many are its characteristic games and fascinations; - wealth, poverty; happiness, misery; prosperity or adversity, with fatal surety.
Young people delight to gather on this evening to test the efficacy of these oft-tried charms, some of the simplest of which are here given.
Three saucers are placed in a row upon the table. One is empty, one filled with meal, the other with water. This reveals the fortune of the blind-folded person who is told to dip a finger in some one of these saucers. If the spirits that reign on this night guide the finger to the saucer filled with water, a marriage within a twelvemonth is the result. Should the fates-be unpropitious, the finger will come in contact with the empty saucer, and a doom to single misery is inevitable. The meal signifies wealth and happiness. The order of the saucers is changed prior to the attempt of each successive victim.
Another efficacious means of peering into the dim and unknowable future is to melt lead and pour it through the handle of a key into a bowl of clear, cold water. The fantastic shapes acquired through this sudden cooling are suggestive of the future of the individual making the experiment.
A charm for maidens alone, is the making of a simple cake into which has. been stirred a ring, a thimble, and a bit of ivory. These unusual ingredients symbolize respectively, a bride, an uncrowned queen (a title), and a great traveler.
The name of one's intended is disclosed as follows: On separate skips of paper write the names of greatly admired persons of the opposite sex, also leave one slip blank. Fold the papers and roll each into a small ball of cornmeal moistened with water. Simultaneously, drop all the balls into a basin of water. Upon opening, the enclosed slips at once make their way to the surface.
To be sure, the name first appearing is destined by fate to be the future spouse. Two papers coming up together signifies two marriages. The blank slip first arising, indicates that the better or “worser” half, as yet, unknown.
Another merry pastime is the naming and roasting of chestnuts. The first one popping in the fire, will positively be the first one in '''popping," "Wilt thou be mine? "
Pare an apple in one continuous piece, without a -break. Whirl the paring three times around the head and toss it over the left shoulder. Behold the initial of the one whose heart is to beat in unison with that of the parer!
A pleasant apple-charm consists in eating one roasted - the core, and every particle of it save the seeds. These are thrown into the blazing fire, with the well-known metre:
“One, I love, two, I love, three, I love, I say,
Four, I love with all my heart,
Five, I cast away;
Six, he loves, seven, she loves, Eight, they both love.”
Numerous amusing Halloween games are played with apples. Suspend an. apple from a string in the middle of a room. Without the aid of the hands catch the gently swinging apple with your teeth-if you can!
"Bobbing for apples" is perhaps too well known to require description. Float several large, rosy-cheeked apples in a great tub filled with water. These are to be picked out with the teeth. '" Pooh, that's easy!" Try it. The seductive cheek of the apple glides coyly away upon every approach of the covetous lips.
Apropos of games, "Snap Dragon ". is played with stemless raisins placed in a platter filled with alcohol. Set fire to the alcohol, and the one snatching out' the greatest number of raisins will be the first to wed.
A pretty severe Yankee fad is this: Break in two a hard-boiled egg. Remove the yolk and fill its space with salt. Swallow this, and hie thee to thy couch, groping thy way backwards, and speaking never a word. At the hour of midnight, thou wilt dream, that being thirsty, a glass of water is handed thee. Look well at that apparition - for behold, it is thy affinity.
The dauntless maid who will brave the terrors of darkness and utter solitude at midnight, will see the face of her future lord in the mirror, before which she is eating an apple.
A midnight charm is that of walking back wards in to the cellar, all alone, and in the dark! Hold a candle in the right hand, which lights a mirror carried in the left. All the way down the stairs, repeat the lines:
" Appear, appear, my true love dear,
Appear to me to-night,"
Oft times it is not necessary to go entirely into the fearful darkness of the cellar. The charm will be answered ere the foot of the stair is reached, for the yearning visage of the heart’s idol will be reflected from the mirror after a few repetitions of these powerful words.
Is it the trickery of friends, an over-excited imagination, or the spell of the mystic night itself that is responsible?
If the anxious girl will but name the four corners of her snowy cot upon retiring, after which not a syllable is to be uttered, her Prince Charming will woo her in delicious dreams.
Beware of what ye eat on this auspicious night. Shun cheese and mince pie as ye would the nightmare, for whatever ye may dream on this night will surely come true.
There you have it! Are YOU brave enough to try any of these Halloween games?