Halloween goes back a long way—about 2,000 years, to the time of the Celts, who celebrated the new year on November 1, the day that marked the end of summer and the beginning of the dark, cold winter. The Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead blurred, and ghosts returned to earth. The presence of otherworldly spirits helped the Druids, their priests, to predict the future.
Methods for predicting whom young people would choose as mates passed down through the centuries. The Eight Ladies Writing were classmates in the McDaniel College romance writing program—even though we don’t all write romance—so I guess you could say we’re experts, academically at least, on romance. Want to find your soul mate by Nov. 1? Try these time-tested strategies! (Thank you, History.com.)
- In 18th-century Ireland, a matchmaking cook might bury a ring in the mashed potatoes on Halloween night, hoping to bring true love to the diner who found it.
- 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, or gazed at egg yolks floating in a bowl of water, or held candles before mirrors in darkened rooms, looking over their shoulders for their husbands’ faces.
- Sometimes, competition was the norm: the first guest to find a burr on a chestnut hunt—or the first successful apple-bobber—was said to be the first to marry.
If none of these strategies evokes the heartwarming emotions you’d hoped for in your desired mate, perhaps you can woo your intended with a nice box of chocolates. After all, one-fourth of all the candy sold annually in the United States is purchased for Halloween.
Happy trick or treating!