Hallowe’en, Age 14

April 26th, 2012

Ah, the joy of trying on old Hallowe’en costumes! I bet many of you made your own costumes, once upon a time — or perhaps you still do. Do you save them all? Recycle from year to year? Or just keep a few favorites tucked away to put on when you want to terrify the neighbors? Where can I see pictures?

When I was very small, my mother made my costumes for me, boldly creating pretty much anything I could dream up. As I got a bit older, and learned to sew myself, she brought me on as a collaborator, until I gradually took over the entire process. I ran into a stash of old costumes this morning and just had to try some on.

Hallowe'en, Age 14

I think this was the first costume I made by myself. I was 14 and just learning to drape my own patterns. I was also beginning to be interested in historical accuracy (don’t laugh, I was only 14). And I was reading Mallory’s Le Mort D’Arthur.

Happy Hallowe’en

October 31st, 2011


Halloween, with costumes and candy (or booze, in our neighborhood, just a few blocks from the famed Greenwich Village Halloween Parade) is a modern invention. It was, of course, originally All Hallows Eve, the night before All Saints Day, which is then followed by All Souls Day. The paganish roots of the customs we now keep are often traced to the Gaelic harvest festival of Samhain.

Most mid-19th century Americans did not celebrate Hallowe’en, though the Irish immigrants were rumored to carve turnips into funny faces and place candles inside. These little lanterns placed in a window would keep away the roaming spirits, given free reign for one night a year.

I was curious to see if there were any books mentioning Hallowe’en in the mid-19th century, and I came up with this gem:

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