An All Hallows Party

Hey-ho for Halloween! 
All the witches to be seen, 
Some in black, and some in green, 
Hey-ho for Halloween

The Hallows Folklore Herbal...

Most of the Halloween love charms in our folkloric collections like that of the Journal of American Folklore, Memoirs of the American Folklore Society, Green Collection, Frank C. Brown Collection, Duncan Emrich, Ruth E. Kelly, C. L Daniels Collection and B.A Botkin Collection reference apples as the core fortune-game of the season (the same being true for May's Eve, and to a lesser extent, Midsummer and New Years).  Apples were split, bobbed for, counted, hung from doors, skinned and sectioned all for the chance to see a future, see a spirit, see a lover...

The great Hallows fruit of the new world, pumpkins are the customary symbol of America's Halloween and its primary function for the day is decoration (jack-o-lanterns), food (flesh and seeds) and storage (of nuts, apples, candies, and brews).  A tasty dish and a fun bit of decor; these can be used for several different divination games.

Traditionally, jack-o-lanterns had been carved from turnips in Ireland, however, when the custom came to America, pumpkins would quickly replace turnips as a staple symbol of the season as they were far easier to carve, decorate with scary faces and illuminate. 

In the folklore of the South, especially in places like Missouri and Tennessee, there are Halloween charms pertaining to the obtaining of a cabbage, taken especially on Halloween from a nearby garden, in stealth and either blindfolded or walking backward or both.  The stock would determine, by its length and shape, the qualities of one's future mate. In other folklore of Western European origin, is the cooking of the cabbage which has charms hidden within for partiers to foretell their future-- this was also done with mashed potatoes.

Nut charms accompany apple games at Hallows eve; inscribed nuts would be cast in the fire, and the first to pop would tell the future.  These nuts are referenced as hazelnuts and chestnuts most often.

Evening Hymnal...

There Was An Old Witch
*Traditional Halloween Folk  Song*

There was an old witch 
Believe it if you can
She tapped on the windows 
And she ran, ran, ran
She ran helter-skelter 
With her toes in the air,
Cornstalks were flying 
From the old witch's hair.

Swish goes the broomstick
Meow goes the cat,
Plop goes the hop-toad
Sitting on her hat.

"Whee!" chuckled I,
What fun, what fun!
Halloween night 
When the old witch runs.

Opener: Dumb Supper

Set the table with the materials all backward (forks and spoons and glassware on opposite sides, courses served in reverse, etc); let there be chairs and settings left for the spirits and black candles.  The supper doesn't have to be an entire meal, it can be a small portion of it or a single dish (we're only eating a slice of pie, eating the actual dinner food later). This year, our menu is apple pie (apples, an Old World fruit, being the traditional symbolic Halloween food along with pumpkins- the New World's Halloween contribution), pumpkin pie (featured above), cooked cabbage (stolen at midnight from the garden), mashed potatoes (mashed potatoes and peas are each utilized for divinations and fortunes at Allhallows) and cider.  

Blow out the black candles to end the Supper-- one is supposed to use this moment of darkness to divine the face of a spirit in the empty chairs at the table, or in the reflection of the plates on the table.  Turn on the lights and music!

First Game: Pumpkin-Water Divination

Gather round a bowl of water (traditionally a pure white one but I find a hollowed pumpkin more fun) and fill it with the letters of the Alphabet.  Each take a turn, blindfolded, pulling out the first letter of their future lover's name saying an old charm:

"Kind fortune tell me where he is,
who my future lord shall be;
from this bowl all that I claim
is to know my lover's name.”

Alternately, you could forego the water and carve the letters on the flesh of the pumpkin as detailed by Ruth Edna Kelly in The Book of Halloween published in the early 20th century.  A blind-folded participant would use a pin to locate the initial of her love-to-be in a sort of Pin the Tail on the Donkey style game. 

Second: Apple Fortune

Gather your party around the table set with apples at every seat (apples that have been bobbed for are best).  Spear the apples with silver forks or prongs and dip in caramel! The seeds collected during the slicing process can be used in counting-out charms.

"One, I Love; two, I love; three, I love, I say,
Four, I love with all my heart; five, I cast away.
Six, he loves; seven, she loves,
Eight, they both love.
Nine, he comes; ten, he tarries,
Eleven, he courts; twelve, he marries.
Thirteen, honor, fourteen, riches;
All the rest are little witches!"

Third Game: Twelve Candle Leap

Light twelve candles and place a safe distance apart on a hard floor (this is probably best done outside but with the right sized candle (tealight, votive) and proper holders (as well as no loose clothing) it can be done indoors on hardwood or cement flooring.  In the old days, this charm was used to foretell the wedding month of the participant depending on whether or not the candle blew out or remained lit. I've adapted the charm for my own purposes; each participant stands before a tealight candle on the floor and jumps over a candle asking a yes/no question; everyone jumps at the same time and whoever's candle blows out will indicate a no.

Closer: Mirrors in the Dark

Darken the room and perform any number of mirror charms; this must specifically be done at midnight and preferably during a full moon.  Friends can sit around and in silence, count out a rhyme (this used to be done with apple slices, or with comb-strokes through the hair) to the number nine, or, to when the clock strikes midnight and, just as in the Bloody Mary games of our childhood parties, a spirit is supposed to appear in the mirror-- only not an entity, but a portent of one's future lover.

Additional Traditional Activities: scary stories, seances, shadow puppetry, candy devouring, mischief of all kinds!

Party Packs: Candy, pumpkin seeds, apple seeds (for counting), nuts for fire fortune-games, orange, black, yellow and/or white candles, placed inside a small pumpkin, hollowed out and ready for decorating! Also, you could bake some small cakes with a single charm inside for partiers to fortune game with, or, bake little soul-cakes for family and friends who come to visit.
This year, our party packs are pumpkin seeds, rock candy sugar, and acorns for fire-fortunes in a take-home mini-pumpkin.

 Witchy Movie Playlist for Hallows Eve:

The VVitch
The Love Witch
Suspiria (2018)
You Won't Be Alone
The Craft
Gretel and Hansel
The Witches
Sleepy Hollow
Death Becomes Her
Hocus Pocus
Addams Family Values
Kiki's Delivery Service

Music Playlist for Hallows Eve:

Season of the Witch- Donovan
Gingerbread Coffin- Rasputina
Black Magic Woman- Santana
Sick Child- Siouxsie and the Banshees
You're A Wolf- Seawolf
Under Your Spell- Timber Timbre
Terrible Thing- AG
Toes- Glass Animals
Get Ur Freak On- Missy Elliot
Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See- Busta Rhymes
Luv 2 Luv U- Timbaland & Magoo
Feed My Frankenstein- Alice Cooper
Devil Inside- INXS
I Put a Spell on You- Screamin' Jay Hawkins
The Monster Mash- Bobby Pickett

Fill one bowl with water, one with dirt and one with rings.  Blindfold your party guest and shuffle the bowls.  let them, choose their bowl.  A person who chooses water will marry a traveler, a person who picks dirt will be dirt-poor when wed (or be first in the marriage to their grave), and a person who picks the ring bowl will be rich when wed.

1 comment

  1. That song is my favourite from childhood! This post is marvelous!


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