This Christian feast / festival began in the 16th century, about mid-1550s in Europe. With the Puritan influence in America for years, the practice of All Hallows’ Eve was never recognized. Not until many immigrants from Ireland and Scotland came to America, did things begin to change. Gradually the recognition of Halloween was assimilated into mainstream American society and by the first decade of the 20th century it was being celebrated coast to coast by people of all social, racial and religious backgrounds.
A very popular practice by adults at the beginning of the 20th century and through to the 1920s was the sending of Halloween postcards. Your ancestor wished family members, friends and business associates a merry time during this holiday. Yet, some of those vintage postcards even very scary in appearance. Adults held big parties for themselves not only on October 31st but many times days before. They would dress up in costumes of various designs. A common costume was that of a clown. At the parties were different activities including bobbing for apples and events that they thought would predict the future. One game was divination, a prediction of who a single person might marry. One method was to peel part of an apple, toss the peel over the lady’s should and whatever the shape of a letter the peel took when it landed would tell the first initial of the man she was to marry. Also looking into a mirror in a dark room offered the opportunity for a lady to see the face of her future husband. Other activities involved telling of scary tales and stories.
Trick-or-treating by children really didn’t come about until the 1930s. Gradually Halloween by the 1950s centered all around children with parties and going door-to-door, very few adult parties anymore. However, in the last 20 years the practice of adults getting together in costumes and having a great Halloween party has returned. Children still continue with their trick-or-treating plus parties.< Return To Blog