Dressing up in costume and going trick-or-treating to nearby homes was fast becoming popular in the 1920s however, it was not very feasible in rural areas. Instead, farm families and communities would plan their own kind of Halloween fun. Parties would be held in someone’s home or a community center. Games of every kind were played including the classic Bobbing for Apples, trying to eat a donut hanging from a string, Jack o’ Lantern carving, and going on a hayride. Interestingly, the object for most of the activities for teens and young adults was to “divine” who they would marry.
Each October The Farmer’s Wife magazine published Halloween party ideas to assist their readers in planning and hosting spooktacular get-togethers — similar to the way we use Pinterest today. Party suggestions included ideas for homemade decorations, games, and activities, designs for invitations, dinner, and refreshment menus including recipes.
Another vintage tradition that lasted into the 1930s was mailing friends and family Halloween greeting cards (examples below).
Each year I host an old fashioned Halloween party by getting together with family for homemade chili and donuts followed by a hayride with the grandchildren. Can’t wait!
Wishing you a fun and safe All Hallows Eve.
Thanks for stopping by.
A Witching Party for Halloween
By Nettie Rand Miller
Send your guests a frightening invitation by copying the following poem onto orange paper and attaching it to a witch cutout:
“On Halloween when witches ride, Come and have your fortune tried; The canny witch will read your fate, Assembling on the stroke of eight; Read your fate and tell you true, Just what the future holds for you; So mount your broomstick in good time, But ere the day send us a line.” Place…………………………………………… Name of Hostess........................................................
Decorate the living room to represent a witch’s home. By the fireplace stands an old broom and, on the mantel, place the framed picture of a cat cut from black paper on an orange-colored background.
The witch’s black kettle in which she brews her mysterious portions hangs in the fireplace. Lacking a fireplace, it may be arranged in a corner of the room. Cobwebs of gray paper cut in strips flitter in every available place. Jack-o’-lanterns grin in the dim light and a dismal paper owl or two perched on dead branches will add to the weirdness.
Calling Up the Witch is a good game with which to open the evening’s fun as it introduces everybody and is a good icebreaker.
The door should be covered with a length of black cambric (a finely woven cotton fabric) with a yellow circle in the center. Each guest is provided in turn with three hand-sewn bean bags shaped like witches’ brooms. Each guest takes a turn in throwing the broom bags, trying to hit the orange “knocker” while pronouncing his own name. Supposing the thrower is George Black, the form of address is “George Black summons the witch to appear!” and since the name has been given three times, once each time the bag is thrown, the company learns the player’s name if there are strangers present.
The keeper of the door holds up a wand whenever the knocker has been struck then turns to say: “Witch! Come forth!”
The witch opens the door, shows herself, and immediately closes the door. The game continues until all have had an opportunity to call up the witch.
The witch then appears and guests are asked to form a magic circle by joining hands, the witch remaining on the outside. She runs around the circle touching a player, who leaves his place and begins to run (similar to Duck Duck Goose). Those in the circle count ten aloud and the witch gives chase. If she succeeds in catching the other before the count is up or on the last count, she casts a magic spell over him and changes him into some other object. Then the victim by his actions tries to make the other players guess what it is. The first to guess correctly becomes the next witch or magician and if the first one touched is not caught, the first witch must try again.
A novel method of learning one’s fate is by way of magic philters (potions) which the witch produces from her cauldron. The philters are simply small bottles filled with water and flavored in some harmless pleasant manner to suggest a magic draught. One might contain a little raspberry syrup; another, diluted currant jelly; a third could be darkened with a small piece of licorice; another similarly treated with a peppermint drop or two.
Witch labels are pasted on each philter with an appropriate interpretation. The white bottle might read:
“Whoever drinks a spoonful of the potion on All Hallows Eve shall immediately hereafter see drift before his or her mind’s vision the face of the person he or she is to marry.”
For the red liquid:
“Whoever takes a spoonful of this potion shall immediately think of the one he or she is to marry.”
For the dark liquid, there is the promise of seeing very soon the person the recipient is to marry.
In a similar manner, other potions may be arranged and the witch blindfolded takes them in turn from the cauldron.
Bewitched partners will seek their fate in still another way: The men are lined up in one row and the girls in another, while the witch stands between them and does her best or worst in choosing partners. Blindfolded, she walks down the men’s line and touches a man, immediately going across to the girls’ line and touching a girl while these two step out as partners. When all are paired, they line up in a column and pass before the witch who tells their fortunes in pairs.
Such dainties as the following may be served:
- Rolled Bread and Butter with Olive and Cream Cheese Filling
- Chicken Sandwiches
- Witches’ Surprise
- Mixed vegetable Salad
- Witches’ Cakes decorated to represent cat faces, owls, etc.
- Ice cream Goblins
- Ginger Ale
The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife — A Magazine for Farm Women October 1926, Page 491; Webb Publishing Company, Saint Paul, Minnesota *Article may be edited for length and clarity.