The romance of Halloween in Baltimore
For many years in Baltimore, Halloween had a romantic significance. “It is regarded by many a girl,” The Baltimore Sun reported in 1895, “as the best time of the year to catch a glimpse of the man whom fate has destined to be her husband.”
That’s right. The question of “Whom will I marry?” could be answered on All Hallows’ Eve. The link between Halloween and romance seems to have come from the Celtic tradition. Celts honored “in-between times,” when it was believed the barriers separating the otherworld from everyday life became thin.
Deciding between two lovers? According to one Celtic tradition popular in Baltimore, you could place two nuts on a hot stove and name them after two admirers. “The one that remains and burns is the true and faithful lover,” a Sun article stated, “while the other, which jumps away, is the fickle and false one.”
Apples, too, held mystical powers. In 1906, The Sun reported that “apples and apple peelings are greatly in demand,” with young women using them as oracles. The secret was to peel an apple in one long piece, then to throw it over the left shoulder. When it falls, it will give the initial of one’s beloved-to-be.
Another article stated that a woman could eat the apple and expect her lover’s face to appear in a mirror — “or she might see her own face shrouded for the grave!” In the early 1900s, of course, the idea of dying unmarried may have been more frightening than seeing an actual ghost.