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Hallowe’en – not all ghosts are good! – 1864

Photo: U.S Department of Agriculture. Creative Commons
Photo: U.S Department of Agriculture. Creative Commons
Sacramento Daily Union, 14th December 1864
The customs of Holy Eve are as various as the countries where the feast is kept. A supper of the products of the orchard, connected with the etiquette of a hundred tricks, are attractive features “for the night only”. But it is not the broad board of apples and nuts which excite the midnight revelries of the occasion. A more serious practice swells it to the proportion of a carnival, which has survived the wreck of empires.

A portion of the world of spirits, and it must be said, not the good ghosts for whom we pray, wander through the earth for the sole purpose of making the single married, or place a winding sheet on the wicked frames of those who make too free with the devil at midnight. This is the spell which gives Hallowe’en its ancient power, and invests it with the mystery which secures it perpetual remembrance.

Nine is a number which, for some unexplained cause, provokes the presence of one of the gentlemen from the lower regions.

It happened that a maiden, anxious to be wedded to somebody, proceeded at dusk, with the first apple she received from an unmarried man, to her chamber, and having carefully locked the door, she stuck a pin nine times in the apple. Then she proceeded to the mirror with the apple raised on her hand. She beheld the mirror for only a brief space when her future lover appeared in it. But, alas, what appeared was only the face of the lover, with the club feet and tail of the devil.

There is another instance on record of Satan himself appearing in propria persona before a young lady who tried this spell.

She died in terror at beholding her marital fate…



B.A., M.A.(Archaeology); Regional Tour Guide; Dip. Radio Media Tech; H.Dip. Computer Science.

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