Last week I talked about Halloween being the beginning of the story season. This week, I’ll concentrate on another great Halloween tradition: romance.
To our modern minds, Halloween is half cutesy kids’ stuff, and half horror and blood. But 150 years ago, people also thought Halloween was the best time to find your future mate. The boundaries between the everyday world and the world beyond blurred, and single men and women used all sorts of fortune-telling tricks with apples and mirrors. On a more practical level, Halloween parties brought young people together, and Halloween games gave them a chance to sneak off alone into the kale patch to seek their fortunes and canoodle in the dark.
So it should come as no surprise that Halloween has inspired some sweet, some sad, and some scary love stories. There’s something about a shiver and a chill that adds a little extra frisson to a romance.
One of my favorite stories for this time of year is the story of the girl with a ribbon around her neck. I originally read it as a Chinese ghost story, and the ribbon was red, but here’s a different version. Note how the stakes keep increasing as the story goes on. The first time you read it, you are pulled through by the mystery. The second time you read it, you realize that the couple has more and more to lose. This double layer of reader incentive is a nice trick to include in any book, and not just at Halloween! (For a little extra fun, check out this modern take from McSweeney’s. It’s a lot of fun to take an old story and make it new!)
Happy storytelling! What’s your favorite Halloween or supernatural romance?