The traditions behind Halloween go back for thousands of years, however, the Victorians, with their love of décor and costumes, helped shape Halloween into what we know and love today.
In the Victorian era, Halloween was full of fun and silliness. There was no trick-or-treating, but there were elaborate parties, especially for young people. Sometimes the parties did involve costumes and theme parties became popular toward the end of the era. Magazines would feature articles on how to throw the best party and instructions on how to make various decorations. Neighbors would try to outdo each other’s parties.
Popular decorations included corn, jack-o-lanterns, gourds, streamers, and characters like ghosts and witches cut from paper. Typical Halloween party food included popcorn balls, doughnuts, apples, nuts, ice cream, and cakes.
Games were played, and given the Victorian penchant for the occult, it’s no surprise that fortune-telling and other such parlor games were popular. So were scavenger hunts and telling ghost stories. Most of the fortune telling games were about love.
While trick-or-treating didn’t become popular until the 1920’s, many of these traditions are still used today in some way shape and form.
What is your favorite Halloween custom, past or present?