Over the years many traditions surrounding Halloween have come and gone.
The holiday started off as an ancient Celtic celebration called Samhain (sow-in) that marked the end of the harvest and the beginning of the winter season. It was believed that on Samhain that the dead returned to earth and the presence of the spirits made it easier for the Druid priests to make predictions about the future. As the influence of Christianity took over Samhain become blended with All Souls’ Day, the Catholic holiday that honors the dead.
In Colonial America, a new version of Halloween emerged, one with ghost stories and mischief-making. Eventually, the costume wearing trick or treating was born and became popularized in the early 20th century.
But what is one tradition that has been forgotten? Instead of connecting with the dead many people used Halloween to connect with their true love. There used to be several traditions and activities women would participate in on Halloween in order to connect with the spirits and find out information about their future husbands.
If a woman had more than one suitor a fortune teller would tell the woman to name a hazelnut for each suitor and toss the nuts into the fireplace. The nut that burned to ash rather than popping in the fire would represent who the future husband would be.
In order to dream about who your future husband would be, some women would make a sugary treat out of walnuts, hazelnuts, and nutmeg that they would eat before the went to bed on Halloween.
Even Halloween activities that we know today were practised with a matchmaking twist back in the day. When apple bobbing, the first successful apple bobber was believed to be the first one to walk down the aisle.
In 18th-century Ireland, a cook would bury a ring in mashed potatoes on Halloween and whoever found the ring during dinner was said to find their true love soon
The matchmaking is mentioned in American librarian, Ruth Edna Kelly’s The Book Of Halloween, published in 1919 it is the first book-length historical account of the holiday. In the book, she writes about games and traditions associated with Halloween, including mirror games played by young girls. One mirror game a girl would position herself so that she would be able to see the moon in the glass and count the number of reflections she saw to find out how many good things would happen to her over the next year.
Another mirror game mentioned in Kelly’s book involved a girl who, when looking at a mirror at midnight while brushing her hair and eating an apple, will see the face of the man who would be her husband. As she looked in the mirror the girl would recite ““round and round, oh star so fair, you travel and search out everywhere. I pray you sweet stars now show to me this night who my future husband shall be.”
Other Halloween matchmaking activities involved young women tossing apple peels over their shoulder and the shape that the peels fell in would be the initials of their future husband or looking at egg yolks in bowls of water.