Today, Halloween is big business, but our Victorian and Edwardian ancestors also knew how to have a good time on the ancient holiday.
It was during this time that Halloween became a holiday for children. Prior to this, it had been for adults. Dances were held, and there were a number of regional traditions. Still, if you were to take a time machine back to the 1900s or the 1910s, the holiday would be very similar to what we celebrate today.
Costumes were homemade and patterns and costume ideas appeared in magazines. Adults wore costumes to masquerade balls while children attended parties.
Costumes generally followed standard Halloween conventions: ghosts, witches, fairies and the like. They also reflected a Victorian fascination with exotic and foreign cultures.
Several Halloween costumes can be viewed on my Pinterest board “Daily Life 1890-1920”. Five examples are below.
Children and young adults would play tricks on Oct. 30 to celebrate Mischief Night. As communities became increasingly concerned about safety and preventing vandalism, parties began to be held. Parties were hosted by churches, schools and civic organizations.
Party games included blow out the candle and bobbing for apples.
Among the affluent, the Halloween masquerade ball was the first social event after returning to the city from their summer homes.
Jack o’ lanterns were carved and lit with candles. Other decorations were inspired by nature as the holiday was thought of as a rustic holiday. Common decorations included leaves, cornstalks, tree branches and vegetables.
Some communities also hosted trick or treating.
Here are some examples of Halloween revelers dressed up in their costumes.
What are your favorite Halloween traditions? Leave a comment below.
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