So next M0nday is my very favorite holiday–Halloween! Unlike, say, Christmas or Thanksgiving, there is no weird family stuff, no obligations, no gifts to buy, just candy and dressing up and fun. I love it–especially the dressing up! This year I am going to be a French maid, if my modiste finishes my costume on time…

Halloween has its origins about 2000 years ago, in the Celtic festival of Samhain (summer’s end). It marked the death of summer and the beginning of the new year, and the boundaries between life and death were thought to be thinner. It was a moment of change, of magic and supernatural power. The Romans adapted this into the harvest festival of Pomona, goddess of the harvest, and the Christians made it All Soul’s Day. Trick or treat has its origins in the Middle Ages, in parades where the poor would go door to door begging for “soul cakes” in return for prayers for the cake-givers’ deceased relatives.

I’ve been doing lots of research on the Victorian era for my current WIPs, and like so many Victorian holidays Halloween became a bigger deal during the later 19th century than it had been before. The Victorians loved any excuse to have a party, and they also loved spooky, ghost-y things (seances, mediums, mourning jewelry, etc). Halloween became more romantic and sentimental, centering around divination games (like the “looking glass spell,” where a girl could see her future husband in a mirror), harvest-type games like bobbing for apples, ghost story-telling, and general partying with friends. There are some adorable Victorian Halloween postcards!

So to celebrate the holiday, let’s look at some examples of mourning jewelry and those adorable postcards….

BTW,for a good site about Victorian mourning jewelry you can go here

What are you doing this Halloween? Any mirror games??

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Artie Mesia
11 years ago

I love Whitby jett jewelry and really want to own some. It’s very expensive and out of my price range currently 🙁

Now I could be wrong, but I always thought the British (aka Victorians) celebrated the US version of Halloween on Guy Fawkes Day, November 5. When I lived in the UK that’s what happened, but I have no idea when that started.

Janet Mullany
11 years ago

Yes indeed the Brits celebrate Guy Fawkes day on Nov 5 but lately Halloween’s been catching on–I can’t understand why it took so long for a festival centered on candy to be adopted! But Guy Fawkes Day aka Bonfire Night is nothing to do with Halloween–see

I’d really like to know what differentiates mourning jewelry from love token jewelry (using hair, yuk) if there’s no obvious mourning language or symbols.

Sophia Rose
11 years ago

I was so intrigued to see the mourning rings for the first time after reading about them in so many novels.

Thanks for the fascinating post.

Evangeline Holland
11 years ago

I wrote a post I wrote about the holiday in Gilded Age America last year, where I noted that it was a very American celebration. 😉

Elena Greene
11 years ago

As I mentioned on Saturday, I’m in the throes of planning for the UU Halloween party. I’ll be prepping themed cookies for the kids to decorate, stuff to make macaroni skeletons, pumpkin bowling, the like. Also getting my Vulcan costume together.

On the actual day of Halloween, I hope to be just relaxing and giving out candy while my kids trick-or-treat with friends (some probably in Dr Who themed costumes). And I will take pictures. 🙂

Diane Gaston
11 years ago

I’m preparing for Halloween by attending a talk at the Library of Congress by my friend Carol Brown, who makes costumes for Dragon Con and the Renaissance Fair. She came to a Halloween Party as a Jane Austen vampire and that was ages before Janet’s books!!

I’m also preparing for a Halloween holiday Trick or Treat contest giveaway with other authors. Should be fun!

Amanda, you must show a photo of your costume!!!

11 years ago

Thank you for the link to site on the mourning jewelry. Most interesting.
This Halloween we will be staying home as usual. We live out in the country and have had only about 5 Trick or Treaters in 19 years, and 3 of those times it was our grandson. We have new neighbors with 3 children, so maybe this year we will have visitors. I have made up treat bags for our two grandsons and will give them on Sunday, maybe.

On Sunday, we will have our annual family Oktoberfest dinner. My daughter and her family are coming over from NC (they have a little girl, only 4 months old), our other daughter and her family who live down the road will be here, and we have elderly friends we have invited. We have asked our son to bring his friend (he says she is not a girlfriend), but I don’t know if they or he will show.

We have a large brush pile in the yard. I keep trying to convince my son and husband we need to have a Samhain bonfire, but haven’t convinced them yet. A lot will depend on the weather.

I really miss being in town and seeing all the children coming around in costume. We always dressed up to take our children out or stay and give out treats. I have lots of great decorations, but won’t be putting up much this year. Next year I hope to have the time to really decorate well. I miss working at the library. I used to really decorate the children’s area and fix up the rest of the building. We all came in costume and the drama club at the high school would come over to “haunt the stacks.”
We would have lots of activities. I really miss it.

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