From the Huntington Advertiser of Huntington, WV, we find the following story dated October 31, 1899:
Tonight is Halloween and the small boy, as well as many of the larger ones, are happy. Girls ditto.
The lads and lassies, particularly of Scotland and Ireland, and the young people of Wales and England, as well as the youth of this and other countries, have for centuries hailed the night of Halloween, the last night in October, as prophetic.
The first ceremony of Halloween among the Scotch is the pulling of a stock or plant of kale. All the company go out and with eyes closed each pulls the first plant of this kind he or she is able to lay hold of. It being big or little, straight or crooked, is prophetic of the size, shape, and other characteristic of the grand object of all the Halloween spells–the husband or wife. If any earth remains clinging to the root, that signifies fortune, and the state of the heart of the stem, as perceptible to the taste, is indicative of the natural temper and disposition of a future spouse.
Burning nuts is a famous Caledonian charm. Two hazel nuts, sacred to the witches, one bearing the name of the lad and the other the lass, are laid in the fire side by side and accordingly as they burn quietly together or start away from one another so will be the progress and issue of the courtship.
Certain forms must be observed to insure the success of a given spell and in the following one there must be no departure from the formula: A maiden should steal out, entirely alone to the kiln, and throw into the pot a ball of blue yarn, holding fast to the end. She should then begin winding the yarn until it resists, whereupon she should demand, “Who holds this yarn?” An answer will be returned from the kiln-pot, naming the Christian and surname of her future spouse.
Another test is for her to take a candle and going, alone by its light only stand before a mirror and eat an apple. Some traditions say one should comb one’s hair instead of eating the apple. The conditions of the spell being perfect, a shadowy face supposed to be that of the maiden’s future husband will be seen in the glass, as if peeping over her shoulder.
Another Scotch ceremony into which the uncanny largely enters as an element is described as follows: One or more go out, as the case may be (for this is a social spell), to a south running spring or rivulet where “three lairds’ lands meet” and dip the left shirt sleeve. Go to bed in sight of a fire and bang the wet sleeve before it to dry. Lie awake watching carefully, and about midnight an apparition having the exact figure of the grand object in question will come and turn the sleeve as if to dry the other side of it.
An interesting Halloween divination that solves matrimonial doubt and banishes uncertainty is accomplished by arranging three dishes upon the hearth. Into the first is put clean water, into second clouded or muddy water, while the third is left empty. The candidate is securely blindfolded and led to the hearth where the dishes are. The left hand is dipped and if by chance it be in the clean water the wife that is to be will come to the bar of matrimony a maid; if in the muddy water, a widow; but if in the empty dish it foretells with equal certainty no marriage at all. This ceremony is three times repeated, the arrangement of the dishes being each time changed.
Ducking for apples and the attempt to secure by means of the mouth only an apple balanced upon a stick suspended from the ceiling upon the end of which is placed a lighted candle provokes much laughter and no little spirited competition.
For a girl to know if she will marry within the year she must obtain a green pea pod in which are exactly nine peas, hang it over the door, and if the next man guest entering be a bachelor her own marriage will follow within twelve months. This spell is sometimes tried at other times than Halloween, but the conditions then are generally considered less favorable.
Three small rings should be purchased by a maiden during the period of a new moon, each at a different place. She should tie them together with her left garter and place them in her left glove with a scrap of paper cut heart-shaped on which her sweetheart’s name has been written in blue ink. The whole should be placed under her pillow when retiring Halloween and she will dream of her sweetheart if she is to marry him.
The future is sometimes prognosticate on Halloween by candle omens. If a candle burns with an azure tint it signifies the presence or near approach of a spirit or gnome. A collection of tallow rising against the candlestick is styled a winding sheet and is deemed an omen of death in the family. A spark in the candle denotes that the observer will shortly receive a letter.
Two cambric needles are named on Halloween and skillfully placed in a vessel of water. If they float, swimming side by side, the course of true love runs smooth for those they represent. If they sink both together, or if one sinks and the other floats, the persons named will not marry each other.
A printed alphabet is cut into its individual letters, which are placed in water faces downward. On the morrow the initial letters of the favored opposite will be found reversed.
Peel an apple so that the skin remains in unbroken sequence. Whirl this skin three times around the head so that when released it passes over the left shoulder and falls to the floor, assuming the initial letter of the chosen one’s name.
Many young girls fill their mouth with water on Halloween and walk or run around the block, being careful not to swallow the water or suffer it to escape from the mouth. If a girl succeeds in doing this the first man met on returning home will be her husband.
To ascertain one’s standing with a sweetheart select at random an apple and quarter it, carefully gathering the seeds from the core. According to the number found, the following formula is used: 1. I love; 2. I love; 3. I love, I say; 4. I love with all my heart; 5. I cast away; 6. He loves; 7. She loves; 8. They both love; 9. He comes; 10. He tarries; 11. He courts; 12. He marries; 13. Honor; 14. Riches.
At some of the American colleges for women it is customary to celebrate Halloween with straw rides, games, and an annual sheet and pillowcase party, where the illuminations are grotesque pumpkins containing candles, and where cakes containing mystic rings, beans, and a coin are served with the refreshments.
Source: “Hallowe’en Is Now Here,” Huntington (WV) Advertiser, 31 October 1899.