Halloween Practices During The Civil War

Warren Bull
Bio: Warren Bull is an award-winning author with three novels and more than 100 stories published.

Oct 29,2018

Halloween Practices During The Civil War

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The Peoria Morning Mail, on November 2, 1862 reported, “All-Hallow E’en. This old-time anniversary which took place on Friday evening was made the excuse by some of our wild boys for throwing unsavory missiles, putrid vegetables; taking gates off of the hinges, and sundry other pranks. This was probably ‘good fun’ to the boys, but for those thus attacked it was not so desirable. This is the way a ‘very quiet’ night was spent as stated by a contemporary.”

Information below is from Belle Montgomery 

An early article that described Halloween and its charms was printed in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on October 31, 1865. 

Amongst the American people but little other sport is indulged in than the drinking by the country folk, of hard cider, and the masticating of indigestible ‘crullers’ of ‘doughnuts.’ The gamins make use of the festival to batter down panels, dislocate bell wires, unhinge gates, destroying cabbage-patches, and raise a row generally.” -Virginia Mescher

Kate Stone, in her journal, Brokenburn, described some Halloween practices in November, 1864,

 “Some gentlemen called, and we had cards. After they left, Lucy and I tried our fortunes in divers ways as it was ‘Hallow’e’en.’ We tried all magic arts and had a merry frolic, but no future lord and master came to turn our wet garments.”

On Halloween if one was to wet the sleeve of a shirt and hang it to dry in front a fire while lying in bed and watching it till midnight. Supposedly, “the exact apparition of the anxious inquirer’s future partner for life [would] come in and turn the sleeve, as if to dry the other side of it.”London Evening Standard, “Halloween,” 31 October 1878, p. 2.

Kate goes on to say:

“There were no ghostly footprints in the meal sprinkled behind the door. 

No bearded face looked over our shoulders as we ate the 

apples before the glass. No knightly forms of soldiers brave 

disturbed our dreams after eating the white of an egg half-filled with salt”

The love-stricken one has to take a candle and go alone to a looking-glass … when there she has to eat an apple before it and comb her hair. If lucky, she will see the face of her future husband pepping over her shoulder.”

If a girl boils and egg and then removes the yolk, filling the empty space with salt. At bedtime, she eats the salted egg, and then she will dream about a man bringing her a pail of water to quench her thirst. This is the man she will marry.



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