Hundreds of years ago, Halloween wasn’t just about ghosts, ghouls and gathering goodies, it was also a night when the future was pondered and predicted through a series of fortune-telling activities.
Some of these activities, like apple bobbing, were aimed squarely at the young and unmarried, while others were fun diversions that took people’s minds off the harsh winter ahead and gave them something to look forward to.
They also utilised items you probably have lying around the house, like –
12 to be exact.
Set up the candles in a row on the floor. Label them one through twelve, then light them.
Each member of the household, or party-goer then takes it in turns to leap over each lit candle.
The first candle to be extinguished represents the month the leap-er will be married in.
However, double happiness will be rewarded to anyone who successfully manages to leap over all 12 candles without setting their Halloween costume on fire.
- 2. Apple Seeds
Ancient fertility symbols, apples and apple based activities were often used to denote if or when a young person would marry, but the seeds were used for a different purpose.
If you wanted to know if your relationship was solid you could take two apple seeds, initial each with the first letter of your first names, then stick them on your eyelids or eyebrows.
The first seed that took a tumble would foretell which one of you would be the “disloyal sweetheart.” If both seeds remained affixed, you’d be happy (together) forever.
- 3. Nuts
Nuts tossed on an open fire could also be used to foretell happiness in love. Especially, when accompanied by the following rhyming couplet:
If he loves me, pop and flyRuth-Edna Kelley, The Book of Hallowe’en, 1919
If he hates me, live and die
- 4. A Mirror
Mirrors were a popular divination tool frequently used by unmarried girls wanting to see an image of their future love, but they can also be used on Halloween night to count your (future) blessings.
When night falls, go to your window with a small mirror.
Turning your back to the glass, hold up the mirror to reflect the moon.
As the image bounces off the window pane you will see multiple reflections. Count them.
The number of reflections signify how many good things await you over the next 12 months.
- 5. A Cat
While it’s true that in the past cats were viewed with hostility, suspicion and downright hatred (with the most vitriol being reserved for black cats) the following activities are decidedly pro-puss. But you don’t need to manhandle your moggy to get results, just let them be and their body language will determine your fortunes. For example:
Whomever your furry buddy sits beside will enjoy a peaceful prosperous life.
Even better, whomever he or she rubs up against will be bestowed with good luck.
If they follow up the rub with a visit to lap-land, that luck will be doubled.
For more Halloween history and activities why not download The Book of Halloween by Ruth-Edna Kelley? It’s available for free on Project Gutenberg at www.gutenberg.org.