Kay: Halloween—or 50 Ways to Find Your Lover

Fortune-Teller-Image-GraphicsFairy-thumb-150x150Halloween 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!

10 thoughts on “Kay: Halloween—or 50 Ways to Find Your Lover

  1. That history site had so much info on it–I could have written a book. 🙂 And one of the amazing things to me was that–from that beginning 2,000 years ago, now Halloween has basically evolved to a children’s festival. Although I am wearing my jack o’lantern earrings today!

  2. And I thought all that folklore centered on Valentine’s Day and May Day. On a quirky side note, the community I live in is VERY conservative. Children can no longer dress up on Halloween in school because it is the work of Satan. However, they are also VERY proud of the Maypole dance that has been performed at a particular school since 1835. I think I’d rather have my kid dress up as a power ranger than perform a dance of sex worship and fertility rites.

  3. Kay, you reminded me of an excellent romantic suspense by Elizabeth Lowell called Running Scared, which has a powerful, spooky ancient Celtic gold hoard, a brilliant Las Vegas casino owner, his independent, principled curator of ancient artefacts, and a whole slew of bad guys and girls.

    History buffs like Justine might enjoy this. A fabulous treasure trove of Celtic gold jewelry was found in 1948 in a field in Norfolk; the initial discovery was made by a farmer ploughing his field. They were still excavating the site in the 1990s. You can see the Snettisham Hoard at the British Museum, or read about it here http://www.archaeology.co.uk/specials/the-timeline-of-britain/the-snettisham-treasure.htm

  4. I remember reading about that dig! And now I just read the story about the Snettisham Hoard. Fascinating. Also I’ve placed an order for the Elizabeth Lowell book. She’s a terrific author and I always enjoy her work–plus the story line sounds great!

  5. I loved reading about all that stuff when I was a kid, and I’ve always been fascinated by the apple peeling divination. (-: It works great if you love someone who has a lot of Ls and Cs and Ss in his initials!

    Some of the old stories that are based on these traditions are quite interesting — about how the boy sneaks up to her bedroom after the party so he can be the guy in the mirror. Or, two guys fighting to be in the proper kale patch with the prettiest girl (-:. Love really is one of our most basic motivations.

    Another trope I like this time of year is the case of mistaken identity at a costume party!

    Jilly, the book by Elizabeth Lowell sounds like so much fun!

    It’s already Nov. 1 here . . . the leaves are dropping and the wind is howling around the corners today.

  6. The only spirits sneaking around our house last night were little, with chirpy voices, and were very excited and happy that my housemates passed out little bags of chips instead of candy. Who knew they’d be excited by something other than pure sugar?

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