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  • Belfast Between The Wars


Belfast News-Letter, Monday 27 October 1930

Hallowe’en night, now so near, can be made the occasion for jolly parties for young people, and it would be a great pity if the old customs of this season were allowed to die out.

If you decide to have a children’s afternoon party, all sorts of attractive and amusing novelties can be bought quite cheaply, such as “false faces”, noses, hats, blow-outs, fireworks, &c. The last named are really not suitable for very young children, but are most popular with the bigger ones, not to mention all the grown-up children!

A Hallowe’en cake must be provided for such a tea party. Plain sultana is best, and a ring, button, thimble, threepenny piece, &c., must be well wrapped in greaseproof paper and baked in it.

If the party is to take the form of a dinner for “older young people” and “young older people,” these traditional Hallowe’en trinkets can be put in the pudding.

A suitable table dressing for a Hallowe’en dinner party would be an ecru-coloured damask cloth, with autumn-tinted decorations. For this, buckle berries and the red and gold leaves of Virginia creeper would make a charming combination, with amber glass.

Must amusement is generally caused if a small carnival novelty – hot, blow-out, mouth organ – is put at each person’s place.

With regard to entertaining the party there are heaps of Hallowe’en games to choose from, in addition to the traditional nut-burning. I would start with “Dirty water, clean water, and no water at all.” For this you have three bowls, one filled with clean water, one with water in which some tea leaves are placed, and one empty. The players are blindfolded and led up to the bowls one by one. The type of husband or wife they will get is shown by the bowl into which they put their hand, viz: Clean water – Nice. Dirty water – Nasty. Empty – none.

After that you can duck for apples in a tub, attired in bathing caps, or try to bite a piece out of an apple tied to a long string and hanging from the ceiling.

Another amusing game is to make two lists of names – one girls’ names and the other boys’ names. The girls are led up blindfolded to the list of boys’ names, and vice versa. They are told to make a cross, and whichever name the cross comes nearest to is the name of the future husband or wife.

The actual nut-burning is a most amusing ceremonial if properly conducted. The nuts must have been previously well dried in the oven, and the top of the kitchen range is the best place for burning them. Everyone chooses two nuts, a large one for the man and a small one for the lady. They are then set alight, and much can be learned of the inner life and character of the pair by close observation!

Here are some “nut readings” culled from an old book on ancient rites and customs:-

“If ye nuttes burn together brightlye ‘tis sure token of a united and happy life. Should ye nuttes splutter and jump the one from the other, ‘tis sign of mutual dislike and untoward bickerings."

“Should ye large nut burn brightlye the while ye small nut die out, ‘tis proof of a fickle and inconstant mistress, and, in like case, should ye large nut die out first, ye ladye will have cause to beware ye bright eyes of forward damsels.”

Truly it would be a pity to miss putting our fortunes to such a far-reaching and important test!

M. H.


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