Many old Halloween traditions included fortune telling, and many of those fortune telling rituals focused on how to learn about your true love. Here are a few Halloween love spells that I found in The Better Days Books Vintage Halloween Reader. Most of these Halloween traditions were popular in the 1800s and later. Each is something that people said you could do on Halloween night to learn of your true love. If Match.com hasn’t been working for you perhaps you want to try one of these vintage Halloween traditions, or perhaps you will just find them interesting like I did.
Oh, and the idea of seeing my true love as an apparition, as is the hope of many of these rituals, would really freak me out. These Halloween traditions make me very happy to be married.
Reflection in the mirror
One version says you should go secretly into a room at midnight on Halloween and cut an apple into nine slices. You should eat the apple slices in front of a mirror, holding each slice on the point of knife before eating it. As you do this you will supposedly see the image of your true love over your left shoulder asking for the final apple slice.
Another version says you should eat the apple while holding a candle and looking in the mirror. Then you will see your future husband or wife over your shoulder.
Yet another version says you should comb your hair while eating the apple and looking in the mirror in order to see your future spouse over your shoulder.
I suspect that last one only works if your future mate happens to be the paramedic who responds after your horrible fall from walking down the stairs backwards in the middle of the night.
Wet sleeve by the fire
Wet your sleeve in a south-running stream, then go home an hang your wet garment by the fire. Go to bed, but keep an eye on the fire. Do not fall asleep. If you stay awake you will see an apparition come to turn the sleeve to dry the other side, and that vision will look exactly like your future spouse. If you do not see this you must have fallen asleep, even if only briefly.
I am not sure if this would work with a radiator or space heater if you don’t have a fireplace, particularly not one by your bed.
The walnut tree
At midnight on Halloween a young man or woman walks around a walnut tree three times, each time yelling “Let him (or her) that is my true love bring me some walnuts.” The future spouse will then be seen in the tree gathering nuts.
This would terrify me and make me want to live the rest of my life alone and nut-free.
Pulling the kale
If you happen to have some kale or cabbage growing nearby you can try the Scottish tradition of pulling the kale. Single people go into the kale field blindfolded and pull up kale. The shape of the kale stalks indicates the look of your future spouse, and the taste indicates the person’s disposition. The amount of dirt hanging on the roots is said to indicate the about of wealth the future spouse will have.
There is no mention of what it means if you then try to make kale chips but burn them.
Single people make cakes together on Halloween night in complete silence. Each person takes a piece of the dough and marks his or her initials in it. The cakes are placed by the fire before 11 p.m. and the bakers watch from afar. One time before midnight each cake is turned once. At exactly midnight the future wife or husband of whoever is to be married first will come and lay a hand on the marked cake.
Seriously, an entire group of people waste their Halloween night on this project and only one gets to see their true love? Lame.
The three bowls
Place three bowls in a row. Fill one with clean water and one with dirty water. Leave the third bowl empty. Put the bowls in a random order then lead a man blindfolded to them to dip his left hand in one of the bowls. If he puts his hand in the clean water he will have a young wife. If he puts his hand in the dirty water he will end up with an old widow. If he puts his hand in the empty bowl he will forever be a bachelor. This process should be done three times moving the bowls each time.
There were multiple descriptions of this Halloween ritual in the book, but none explained what happened if the outcome was different on each of the three attempts.
The other end of the yarn
Throw a ball of yarn out the window (or into a pot of water on the stove, depending on the version), and hold onto to the other end. As you wind the yarn back up repeat, “I wind, who holds?” again and again. Before you reach the end of the yarn the face of your love will appear in the window and/or the name of your love will be whispered in your ear.
The book included a story of a guy who hid in the chimney because he knew the girl he loved would be doing the stove version of this Halloween tradition. At the proper time he said his own name. They ended up getting married. Sweet and romantic or creepy and manipulative? You be the judge.
Making an initial from an apple skin
Here’s another Halloween tradition involving an apple. Pare an apple in one continuous piece of skin without breaking it. Move the skin around your head three times then throw it over your left shoulder. The letter that it forms on the ground is the initial of your future husband or wife.
This one is great because you know that apple skin shape is going to be very open to interpretation.
Burning the nuts
Place two hazelnuts (or some say chestnuts) in a fire after naming each for the people in a couple. If the nuts burn together side by side the relationship will last. But if one of the nuts cracks or jumps out of the fire the couple will split.
There were a few Halloween traditions like this that tested whether a current relationship would last. What’s more fun at a party than a pair of roasted nuts accusing your partner of not being serious. Good times.
- Halloween for adults: The gays did it!
- Haunted Chicago: Remembering a ghost of the Red Lion Pub
- ‘Twas the Night Before Halloween (A Devil’s Night Poem)
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