Halloween 1910 Style

A girl watches black cats with jack o'lanterns match on a Victorian Halloween card

Halloween 1910 Style

Today, Halloween is big business, but our Victorian and Edwardian ancestors also enjoyed this ancient holiday.

It was during this time, that it became a holiday for children.

There were a number of regional traditions. Some traditions, such as dances, haven’t survived the test of time.  Still, if you were to take a time machine back to the early 20th century, the holiday would be very similar to today.

Parties

Halloween costume ideas in a woman's magazine
Halloween costumes in the early 20th century were homemade

Children and young adults would play tricks on Oct. 30 to celebrate Mischief Night.  Communities became increasingly concerned about safety and held parties to prevent vandalism.  Churches, schools and civic organizations hosted the festivities.

Party games included blow out the candle and bobbing for apples.

Among the affluent, masquerade balls were the first social event after returning to the city from their summer homes.

Jack o’ lanterns were carved and lit with candles. Halloween was considered a rustic holiday, and other decorations were inspired by nature. Common decorations included leaves, cornstalks, tree branches and vegetables.

Some communities also hosted trick or treating.

Halloween Costumes

Costumes were homemade and worn by adults and children.  Patterns and costume ideas appeared in magazines.

Costumes generally followed standard conventions: ghosts, witches, fairies and the like. They also reflected a Victorian fascination with exotic and foreign cultures.

Here are some examples of revelers dressed up in their costumes.

Two girls and a boy pose in their Halloween costumes
Halloween costumes photographed by a professional
Women dressed as witches with a real cat as a prop
Two witches and their very real Halloween prop
Three teens in their Halloween costumes
The girl on the left is a gypsy, the one on the right a witch. It is unclear what the centre girl is.
A group of children in ghost masks
A group of children, perhaps at school, in goblin masks
Six children in Halloween costumes, five are clowns
Five of these six children decided to be clowns for Halloween

If you enjoy vintage photos, visit my Pinterest board Halloween: 1890-1920.

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Updated: 16 October 2020
Melina Druga
Most kids have an active imagination. My imagination has stayed strong into adulthood, and I’ve funneled that creativity into a successful writing career. I write history, both fiction and nonfiction, because although your school history classes may have been boring, the past is not. My goal is to bring the past to life in all its myriad of colors.
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