Hallowe’en October 31 derives its name from the fact that in the Christian calendar it occurs the day before ‘All Saints’ or All Hallows’ Day. It was the last night of the old year according to the ancient calendar of the Celts. On that night it was said that the witches, hobgoblins, warlocks, and other evil spirits walked abroad and devoted themselves to wicked revels. But the good fairies, too, according to some folk-lore, made their appearance at this time, but only from the hour of dusk until midnight. Hallowe’en has always been considered a particularly auspicious occasion for supernatural experiments; it is still celebrated, chiefly in Scotland, by music and merry-making.
The old Celtic custom was to light great bonfires on Hallowe’en, and after these had burned out to make a circle of the ashes of each fire. Within this circle, and near the circumference, each member of the various families that had helped to make a fire would place a pebble. If, on the next day, any stone was out of its place, or had been damaged, it was held to be an indication that the one to whom the stone belonged would die within twelve months. Such a morbid superstition, however, does not find much favor in modem times, and those manifestations which are connected with affairs of the heart are more popularly sought after on the Eve of All Hallows. Here are some of the spells which should be cast only on Hallowe’en. To See Your Future Husband.-Retire into a dark room with one lighted candle as the only means of illumination. Place the candle in front of a mirror and peer into the glass. At the same time, you must either be eating an apple or combing your hair. After a few moments it is said that the face of the man whom you will wed will appear over your shoulder.
There is an old country superstition which decrees that if a woman should eat a salted herring just before she goes to bed, her future husband will appear to her in a dream, carrying a cup of water with which to quench her thirst. To Discover Who will be the First to Marry.-Four cups of the same size are set upon a circular table. In one of the cups there is placed a ring, in another a sixpenny-piece, and in another a sprig of orange-blossom or a piece of heather, while the last cup remains empty. Those who wish to take part in the test are blindfolded, and must walk slowly three times round the table and then touch one of the cups on it. The first person to touch the cup containing the orange-blossom or heather will be the first to wed; anyone selecting the cup with the coin will never know want; the cup with the ring represents devoted love; while the empty cup suggests a single life.
A similar test may be made with three saucers. One is fined with clear water, another with ink or muddy water, while the third is left empty. A woman who wishes to know her fortune is blindfolded and led towards the table with her left hand outstretched. She is then told to touch one of the saucers. Should she touch the saucer containing the clear water, she will soon be married to a handsome man; should she touch the saucer containing the ink or muddy water, her future husband will be a widower; if she should touch the empty saucer, she is unlikely to marry at all.
According to custom mashed potatoes are the correct dish for Hallowe’en, and they also offer us a method of divining which member of the company will be the first to wed. Into the heap of mashed potatoes a ring, a threepenny-bit, a button, a heart-shaped charm, a shell and a key are inserted. Then all the lights in the room are turned out, and each guest, armed with a spoon or fork, endeavors to find the hidden charms. The one who finds the ring win marry first; the threepenny-bit signifies wealth; the button, bachelorhood or spinsterhood; the heart, passionate love; the shell, long journeys; the key, great success and power.
To Ascertain if Your Lover is True.-On Hallowe’en select one of the letters which you have received from your sweetheart, especially one which contains a particularly passionate and important declaration; lay it wide open upon a table and then fold it nine times. Pin the folds together, place the letter in your left-hand glove, and slip it under your pillow. If on that night you dream of silver, gems, glass, castles or clear water, your lover is true and his declarations are genuine; if you dream of linen, storms, fire, wood, flowers, or he is saluting you, he is false and has been deceiving you.
To Discover What Kind of Man You will Marry.-There is a very curious old custom, now practically extinct, which ordains that girls shall go in couples to a field of cabbages and there blindfold themselves. Then each pair, holding hands, shall wander about until they find a cabbage stalk which they pull out of the ground. If the stalk is long, their husbands will be tall; if it is stumpy, their husbands will be short; a crooked stalk indicates a man crooked in mind and body; a soft stalk, a husband who will be weak-willed; a hard stalk, a strong and self-willed man. Earth clinging to the roots of the stalk is a sign of much wealth, while an exceptionally clean stalk indicates poverty.
Another curious spell, which was said to reveal the fortune of a future husband, required ***** to be made of grated walnut, nutmeg and hazel-nut, mixed with butter and sugar. Nine of these ***** were taken upon going to bed. If the husband were to be wealthy and a man of leisure, the dreams would be of gold, gems, or silks; if he were to be a clergyman, the dreams would be of white linen; dreams of darkness indicated a lawyer; bustle and confusion, a tradesman; thunder and lightning, a soldier or a sailor; rain storms, a clerk or a domestic servant.
To Find Whether Lovers Will be Happy.-The company sit round an open fire and then a man, selecting the lady of his choice, invites her to place a nut in the glowing embers; he, too, does likewise. If the burning nuts merely glow or smolder, then the couple who placed them there are suited for one another, and will live in harmony and love. But if the nuts should burst, or crackle loudly, or fly apart, then the man and girl will quarrel excessively, for their temperaments are not in sympathy.
“Bobbing” for Apples.-No Hallowe’en is complete without an “apple bob.” Each member of the party is given an apple, from which a small piece has been cut, and into which a fortune written on a slip of paper has been inserted. The apples are thrown into a large tub of water and the company invited to duck their heads and retrieve an apple with their mouths. Upon doing so they draw out the slip of paper and read their fortune. These fortunes, which must be brief, give rise to greater interest if they deal with affairs of love, such as “Your husband will be masterful and handsome”; “Your sweetheart is deceiving you”; “Beware of a dark man who professes to love you,” and so on.