Halloween — a century ago

Halloween postcard, circa 1900-1910 (Contributed to Wikimedia Commons by Chordboard - public domain)

Halloween postcard, circa 1900-1910 (Contributed to Wikimedia Commons by Chordboard – public domain)

“DESPITE the high cost of living, the wave of political interest that has submerged the country and the many and varied forms of the “women’s movement,” there will doubtless be found time to indulge in a little old fashioned fun on Halloween night.

There is no doubt that this year the Halloween hostess has unequaled opportunities in the way of refreshments as well as mirth provoking ways of entertaining—so many, in fact, that she must choose from the time worn customs those best suited to the enjoyment of her particular company. A girl who hopes to give a very jolly party this year is sending out her invitations on pumpkin shaped postcards, and on them she is writing the following jingle:

At our house on Thursday night
You surely will see a sight.
Ghosts and goblins, witches, too.
Are busy preparing fates for you.
The hour is eight. Don’t be late,
But come—be brave at any rate.

This party, to give credit where it is due, has been arranged by three girls, who are to have a share of the entertaining and add mystery to the evening’s fun by taking the guests in turn to their three homes.

The guests are invited to dress in sheets and, pillowcases, with white masks, so that they will resemble ghosts. When they enter the door of the hostess in whose name the invitations are sent out a gloved hand will be stretched out to them in greeting.

All of the girls, and very likely all of the boys, will be unable to suppress a shriek when they grasp a cold, clammy kid glove that has been stuffed with sawdust and soaked in ice water.

None of the ghosts is supposed to talk loudly, and much merriment will be found in trying to guess identities.

Games will be played, including guessing contests in which prizes can be given, and when the lights are brightened cocoa, wafers and salted nuts will be served.

Each man chooses a partner, and the party then will go to the home of the second hostess, where other games are played and pumpkin pie and cheese will be the refreshments.

The black cat

The black cat

Partners are again changed when the home of the third girl is visited. This home is to be decorated with Jack-o’-lanterns and autumn leaves. Each guest is given a plate holding an apple with the center scooped out to hold a lighted candle, over which marshmallows are toasted.

One girl dressed as an old witch sits and tells fortunes. Prophecies are hidden in crape paper pumpkins and are to be given as souvenirs of the evening.

Masks are removed, and the party breaks up amid songs and general merrymaking.


Halloween favors

In the illustration are shown some of the newest and most appropriate Halloween table decorations and favors. Especially attractive as supper table ornaments are the candlesticks and shades made of black pasteboard and yellow paper decorated with witches, eats, pumpkins and the like. The realistic elephant seen in the cut has squash legs, a carrot bead and a corncob trunk.

The historic black cat is in evidence this year as a dance favor, and the tabby pictured would provoke much laughter if used also on the supper table.


The dignified gentleman and lady

Inside the bed of green paper is hidden a box of candy. Do you recognize the two tall gentlemen pictured—Herr Gourd, with his trusty meerschaum, and the small one, Signor Carrot, a famous musician with truly temperamental hair. Both will serve at the Halloween dinner. The dignified gentleman and lady seen among the illustrations will make delightful place favors. Both are cleverly made of crape paper, and the lady has a corncob body.


Herr Gourd & Señor Carrot

All of these novelties would be charming to use at the Halloween frolic, and, by the way, a delightful ending for such a party is to have the best story teller of the crowd posted beforehand so that he may be prepared to tell a thrilling ghost tale. Then gather about a table on which is a plate of salt, pour alcohol on this, light it and extinguish all other lights and listen in silence. If the blue flame of the alcohol casting a deadly pallor over every face, the gruesome story, the unearthly silence, except for the hollow tones of the speaker, do not induce imaginative persons to read their fate in some of the tests of the evening, the party can hardly be called a success.”

(The above article appeared in the Mount Vernon, NY, Daily Argus newspaper, OCTOBER 1912, under the headline ‘A Progressive Party for Halloween with No Political Significance’)

Daily Argus (Mt. Vernon, NY) - October 1912 (www.fultonhistory,com)

CLICK TO ENLARGE – Daily Argus (Mt. Vernon, NY) – October 1912 (www.fultonhistory,com)

****SCROLL DOWN for more century-old Halloween clippings, including recipes for ‘Cauldron Punch,’ ‘Goblin Pie,’ ‘Witch Cake,’ and ‘Gnome Salad’!****

The Daily Argus, Mt. Vernon, NY, 29 Oct 14 (www.fultonhistory.com)

The Daily Argus, Mt. Vernon, NY, 29 Oct 14 (www.fultonhistory.com)

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 19 Oct 1914 (www.fultonhistory.com)

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 19 Oct 1914 (www.fultonhistory.com)

The Daily Argus,  Oct 1912 (www.fultonhistory.com)

The Daily Argus, Oct 1912 (www.fultonhistory.com)

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 29 Oct 1914 (www.fultonhistory.com)

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 29 Oct 1914 (www.fultonhistory.com)

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 29 Oct 1914 (www.fultonhistory.com)

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 29 Oct 1914 (www.fultonhistory.com)

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 25 Oct 1914 (www.fultonhistory.com)

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 25 Oct 1914 (www.fultonhistory.com)

Wikipedia – History of Halloween

Categories: Halloween, Miscellaneous | 10 Comments

Post navigation

10 thoughts on “Halloween — a century ago

  1. Thanks for the tour! I really thought Halloween was more modern. Very interesting… and fun. –Curt


  2. Barbara Brodhead

    Fun post!

    Sent from my iPhone



  3. I’m not a real big fan of halloween anymore but that does sound like a fun party! 🙂


  4. I enjoyed the old Halloween articles, pictures, and advertisements. They give lots of clues about what Halloween was like back then.


Leave a reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Powered by WordPress.com.

Hello Hygge

Finding hygge everywhere

Well, That Was Different

Travel Stories, Expatriate Life, Undiplomatic Commentary and Some Pretty Good Photos

Sketching Family

Urban Sketching


Terry's view on things

Giselle Potter



Politics, things that make you think, and recreational breaks

The Sketchbook


Smart Veg Recipes

Welcome to home made, vegeterian, healthy & kids friendly recipes

Jane Austen's World

This Jane Austen blog brings Jane Austen, her novels, and the Regency Period alive through food, dress, social customs, and other 19th C. historical details related to this topic.

Travels with Janet

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Do Svidanya Dad

Exploring Dad's Unusual Story From NJ to the USSR

La Audacia de Aquiles

"El Mundo Visible es Sólo un Pretexto" / "The Visible World is Just a Pretext".-


In The Beginning Man Tried Ascending To Heaven via The Tower Of Babel. Now He Tries To Elevate His Existence Using Hallucinogenic Drugs. And, Since The 20th Century, He Continually Voyages Into Outer Space Using Spacecrafts. Prayer Thru Christ Is The Only Way To Reach Heaven.

London, Hollywood

I'm Dominic Wells, an ex-Time Out Editor. I used to write about films. Now I write them.

Uma Familia Portuguesa

A história da nossa família

Trkingmomoe's Blog

Low Budget Meals for the New Normal

The Good, the Bad and the Italian

food/films/families and more

dvn ms kmz time travel

This is all about my travels to the past... my reflections and musings about yesteryear, as I find the stories of a people passed away and learn how to tell them.


350 years of Newark in verse 1666-2016

Russian Universe

Understanding Russia with a Russian

Bulldog Travels

Everything and Nothing Plus Some Pretty Photos

Dances with Wools

knitting, spinning, dyeing, and related fiber arts

Life After Caregiving

On caregivers, faith, family, and writing...

Why'd You Eat That?

Food Folklore for the everyday scholar. These are the stories behind the foods we eat.

Cooking Without Limits

Food Photography & Recipes

The Pioneer Woman

Plowing through Life in the Country...One Calf Nut at a Time

Almost Home

Genealogy Research and Consulting

Old Bones Genealogy of New England

Genealogy and Family History Research


Reflections Concerning Art, Nature, and the Affairs of Humankind (also some gardening anecdotes)

Map of Time | A Trip Into the Past

Navigating Through Someplace Called History

Out Here Studying Stones

Cemeteries & Genealogy


family research ... discover your ancestry

the Victorian era

Did I misplace my pince-nez again? Light reading on the 19th century.

"Greatest Generation" Life Lessons

This is the story of an ordinary family, trying to live an ordinary life during an extraordinary time frame, and the lessons they learn through experience.

Moore Genealogy

Fun With Genealogy

Meeting my family


Shaking the tree

musings on the journey towards knowing and sharing my family's stories

A Hundred Years Ago

Food and More

Scots Roots

Helping you dig up your Scots roots.

Root To Tip

Not just a list of names and dates

%d bloggers like this: