By the Victorian Era, Halloween rituals had become gentler and sweeter. For some revelers, Halloween rivaled Valentine’s Day. Still, it was the day when the supernatural ruled. Whether people were playful or serious, it was an optimal time to peer into the future or receive messages from the dead. As evidenced in the following cards, Victorian Era Halloween games spelled romance.
According to author Lesley Ballantyne, Halloween games had a romantic twist at least since the 1700s and likely well before.
“Magazine fiction published after the Civil War used the day’s fortunetelling customs to stir characters together. Halloween was the backdrop for passion unleashed in the dark, for a titillating brush of hands, cheeks, lips.”
People gazed into mirrors on Halloween to catch a glimpse of the face of their future mate.(Think Tinder.) If a skull appears, you will probably die before you find your mate.
In some versions, this was done while eating an apple. Most Victorian Era Halloween games were done at midnight for optimal results.
Apple bobbing dates back to Celtic celebrations. Games with apples were the bomb for Victorian Era Halloween games that spelled romance.
Bob Baby Bob: Apples were dumped in a barrel. The first person to grab one using only their teeth would marry first. There were countless variations and fine tunings. A crisp apple, for example, meant a good mate. A rotten apple could not be passed to the next in line.
String It Up: In one version, the apple was hung on a string. The player’s hands were tied as s/he tried to bite the apple. This was definitely a glamorous game.
Peel Away: This variation involved peeling an apple. Hopefully one can do this in one long piece. Throw the peel over your shoulder and the initials of your future mate will be revealed.
This game combined apples and mirrors, just to be sure. The player had to look in the mirror while eating an apple while walking downstairs. Did we mention the person had to walk backwards, probably in heels? Talk about tempting fate.
Special cakes were baked with various charms inside. Your future would be held in the charm you received in your slice. A wedding ring meant you would meet your match. A thimble indicated no mate for you. A coin meant you would be wealthy. Was this game ever rigged?
The Victorian Era Halloween games definitely had a makeover that oozed with syrup. Even so, surly supernatural beings were afoot (or afloat) so one had to beware.
According to Cow Hampshire, this Scottish custom told your entire future. Blindfolded, young people pulled stalks of kale or cabbage. The size, amount of earth at the roots and taste of the bulb revealed the stature, fortune and temperament of the player’s future partner.
Even fairies made an appearance in Victorian Era Halloween games. This was particularly true in Ireland where fairies were associated with All Hallows.
Racing Nellie Bly
Victorian Secrets From Footnotes In History
Know The Past To Invent The Future