The History of Halloween and Its Postcards

All Hallow’s Eve, Samhain, Halloween – no matter what version of the holiday you celebrate, the end of the harvest season and the coming of a darker, colder season is heralded at the end of October.

You can see the progression of the holiday through vintage Halloween postcards, a fascinating look at what the holiday was like back then.

Halloween started with the Celtic festival Samhain, where villagers built a bonfire and donned masks to confuse any spirits at the end of the harvest season.

This turned into All Souls’ Day in the 12th century, a day to pray for the dead.

In the Victorian Era the holiday turned into a fun, less creepy holiday focused more on romance.

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Postcards from this time period reflect these themes; many Victorian Halloween postcards show couples embracing, surrounded by pumpkins on a moonlit night. A legend prevalent at the time said that a young woman could find the name of her true love on Halloween night. This included such rituals as eating an apple while looking in a mirror by candlelight, or peeling an apple in one continuous peel and seeing what letter (the alleged first letter of a lover’s name) the peels formed. Another, more questionable ritual suggests going down a staircase at midnight while holding a mirror that would show her future husband. (We don’t recommend this unless your future husband is standing at the bottom waiting to catch you when you inevitably trip and fall down said staircase.)

Some vintage Halloween postcards come across as rather odd. This one, for instance, shows uprooted kale:



This ritual meant wearing a blindfold and pulling up kale. The shape of the kale stalk suggested the look of a future spouse, and the taste suggested their temperament.

So if you come across vintage postcards with stalks of kale, you’ll be at least slightly less confused than before.

What are the strangest Halloween postcards you’ve seen?

Check out this link for more strange vintage Halloween postcards.


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