Bizarre Halloween Customs


vintage halloween customs

Welcome to Halloween! Goblins, ghouls and ghostly experiences abound… and that is just with the Halloween trick and treaters. As I prepare to conduct our own spooky Halloween event, I thought I would look at some of the quainter customs for ‘All Hallows Eve’ which people took part in, back at the turn of the 19th century.

Halloween seemed to have been more a night for divination and magic… not horror or scares. It seemed also to be a good time for young lovers to practice rituals and games. If you fit into this category, here are some great customs for you to contemplate on Halloween.

In many places, girls who were desperate to know if their lovers were being faithful, would put 3 nuts on the fire grate and apparently name each nut after her lovers and another one after herself… (erm, does anybody see something wrong with this, or is that just me?). If a nut cracks or jumps then that lover will prove unfaithful. If a nut burns then he is showing love to the young lady. Should two nuts burn together, one named after the girl and one a lovers name, then they will marry in the future. She would no doubt have been very disappointed should two of her lovers nuts have burned together and hers was left untouched. I am sure, the two other lovers would have lived happily ever after though.

Another custom was to hang a stick horizontally from the ceiling by a piece of string. You would have a lit candle on one end and an apple on the other. You would then twist the stick and let it revolve back rapidly. Meanwhile, the people in the room would jump up and try and catch the rapidly revolving apple in their teeth. I can only imagine the tears on that one if they misjudged! What’s a mouthful of hot candle wax when you are having fun on Halloween!

A less risky version of the above was the apple bobbing in a tub for the children.

Another lovely custom is to take three bowls. One is left empty, one is filled with foul water and the last with clean water. Participants are blindfolded and led into the room. If they were to put their finger into the clean water, they would be safe and would marry a fair maiden or fine young man. If they put their finger in the foul water, then they would be left with marrying a widow. If they put into the empty bowl, they would live their life as a bachelor or old maid. I am sure many went away more depressed then when they excitedly donned their blindfolds.

If you young ladies wish to see your future husband we will finish on two methods for you to learn this tonight.

Firstly, sit in front of a mirror. Take an apple and eat it while staring at the mirror. Your future husband will apparently appear to you there.

Secondly, hang up a wet shirt sleeve by the hearth of a glowing fire and watch it until midnight. It will compel the spirit of your future husband to appear to you! I am sure that with a bottle of wine in hand too, you would have a much better chance, so good luck!

For me, on Halloween… I am off to play with goblins, ghouls and all things ghostly. I will leave the quest to find future lovers/husbands to those fair maidens of old.


Check out our Halloween Events – National Railway Museum Victorian Halloween Ghost Hunt

For Ghost Tour dates and bookings – Adelaide Ghost Tours

Copyright Alison Oborn
Adelaide’s Haunted Horizons 2018

Call: 0407 715 866

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *