Sunday, October 11, 2009
Before eHarmony It Was Halloween
Customs most Trick or Treaters may not know about Halloween:
But what about the Halloween traditions and beliefs that today's trick-or-treaters have forgotten all about? Many of these obsolete rituals focused on the future instead of the past and the living instead of the dead. In particular, many had to do with helping young women identify their future husbands and reassuring them that they would someday--with luck, by next Halloween!--be married
In 18th-century Ireland, a matchmaking cook might bury a ring in her mashed potatoes on Halloween night, hoping to bring true love to the diner who found it. In Scotland, fortune-tellers recommended that an eligible young woman name a hazelnut for each of her suitors and then toss the nuts into the fireplace. The nut that burned to ashes rather than popping or exploding, the story went, represented the girl's future husband. (In some versions of this legend, confusingly, the opposite was true: The nut that burned away symbolized a love that would not last.) Another tale had it that if a young woman ate a sugary concoction made out of walnuts, hazelnuts and nutmeg before bed on Halloween night, she would dream about her future husband. Young women tossed apple-peels over their shoulders, hoping that the peels would fall on the floor in the shape of their future husbands' initials; tried to learn about their futures by peering at egg yolks floating in a bowl of water; and stood in front of mirrors in darkened rooms, holding candles and looking over their shoulders for their husbands' faces.
Other rituals were more competitive. At some Halloween parties, the first guest to find a burr on a chestnut-hunt would be the first to marry; at others, the first successful apple bobber would be the first down the asile.
Over the course of hundreds of years, early Christianity would attempt to suppress and replace the Celtic festival with All Saints' Day, which was celebrated on November 1, a holy day of obligation to honor saints and martyrs in the Christian faith. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. But even the powerful influence of the church was unable to squelch the supernatural festival, and Halloween endured and flourished over the centuries to become the sensationalistic celebration it is today in the U.S.
The second illustration is "Vintage PC Courting Woman With Parasol and Flowered Hat Man with Bowler Hat and Looking his best"by christmasangel