The ro­mance of Hal­loween in Bal­ti­more

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND - By Christina Tkacik THEN AND NOW ctkacik@balt­sun.com

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.

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