I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
October 30, 2018
Halloween is a strange holiday when you think about it. Young, innocent children are encouraged to douse themselves in fake blood, dress like monsters or tarts-in-training and take candy from strangers, while grown women run around in costumes only a prostitute could love.
It’s definitely not the natural order of things.
Typically, the cane wavers among us would take this opportunity to talk about how much better things ‘used to be’, back before Keeping Up with the Kardashians forever robbed America of its innocence. But I’m here to tell you that a hundred years ago, Halloween was even more messed up than it is today. Want proof? Gather ’round, girls. I’ve got all the proof you can handle.
Back in the early 1900s, Halloween was marked with an exchange of greeting cards… and when it came to creepy, these people weren’t playing around.
If this is the equivalent of partying like it’s 1899, you can just count me out.
There are so many shades of wrong here, I don’t even know where to begin.
Things were definitely different in the 1900s. If you ghosted someone back then, Halloween greeting cards gave the injured party a chance to let you know exactly how they felt about it.
You could also send ‘Bless your heart’ cards to all your favorite frenemies.
In the absence of cheesy nightclubs back in 1900, Halloween cards also served as a way for single guys to make a move. Frankly though, I think turn-of-the-century pick up lines needed some work. I mean, if some dude told me he wanted to be my pumpkin head, that would pretty much be a deal breaker.
And while these days we might dress as Sexy Tootsie Rolls on Halloween to attract the opposite sex, a hundred years ago things were a little more complicated.
The courting game might have required our great great great grandmother to try and bite an apple attached to a candle-lit chandelier without catching herself on fire, all while any men who wanted to knock lace-up boots attempted to blow out her candle.
Once the candle was successfully extinguished, 1900s-era couples might celebrate by making out inside a giant, lit pumpkin.
As you can see, even the owl here was completely aware that this was one of the worst ideas ever. Did they even have flame retardant clothing back then?
It’s understandable why some chose an entirely different route on Halloween night.
Then there were the cards sent simply to scare the hell out of friends and family members. How’d you like to get this in the mail?
THINGS I WAS AFRAID OF YESTERDAY:
THINGS I’M AFRAID OF NOW:
5. Being followed by a single-file line of pumpkin people on Halloween night.
6. Catching a line of dunce cap-wearing black cats march out from under my staircase on Halloween night.
Aside: This is precisely why I say no to drugs.
And while today, vampires, zombies, and werewolves terrify us at Halloween, back in the 1900s, it was cabbages.
Walking. Talking. Flirting. Cabbages.
Also, did I mention that some of those terrifying pumpkin persons wear peanut shells for shoes? And you thought Freddy Krueger was scary… I ‘ll take knife fingers any day over PEANUT SHOES. *shudder*
100 years ago, if a bunch of freaks turned up at your door after midnight, you were supposed to let them in so they could wish you sweet dreams.
Today, this kind of thing has a name. It’s called a home invasion.
I can actually relate to this card. I scare myself when I get out of bed and look in the mirror, too.
A whole lot of Halloween cards were devoted to a practice that’s been lost to time today. If a young woman looked in the mirror at midnight on Halloween, she’d supposedly see the face of her future husband.
Judging from the number of cards devoted to this superstition, it was a pretty popular thing to do at Halloween. I believe it fell out of favor with the advent of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Who gives a damn about finding out what your future husband looks like when you could be stuffing your face with candy and binge-watching The Haunting of Hill House instead?
Oh look! More candle blowing shenanigans! Honestly, though, if it takes you more than three puffs to blow out a candle, I think you need to be less concerned with finding a man and more concerned with finding an inhaler.
I hope this little foray into the past has convinced you that things weren’t really any better a century ago — They were still completely awful, just in an entirely different way!
Watch out for witches, cabbages, pumpkin people, and dunce cap-wearing cats and have a happy Hallowe’en, everyone!
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