A Victorian Halloween Party


Snap-Apple Night by Daniel Maclise, 1833
Snap-Apple Night by Daniel Maclise, 1833

Despite their reputation for straight-laced sobriety, the Victorians celebrated Halloween with great enthusiasm – and often with outright abandon.  Victorian Halloween parties were filled with fun, games, and spooky rituals, some of which still feature at Halloween parties today.  Many of the games had origins in pagan religion or medieval superstition.  Others were merely a means of making merry with one’s friends.  Regardless, Halloween parties of the 19th century were an occasion for indulging in what author Hugh Miller describes in his 1876 book Scenes and Legends of the North of Scotland as:

“….a multitude of wild mischievous games which were tolerated at no other season.”

For an example of a Victorian Halloween party, we need look no further than Queen Victoria herself.  In 1876, the queen, along with Princess Beatrice and the Marchioness of Ely, celebrated Halloween at Balmoral Castle on a grand scale.  Preparations took place for…

Source: A Victorian Halloween Party

18 thoughts on “A Victorian Halloween Party

  1. Fascinating stuff Sarah – beats ‘trick or treating’ into a cocked hat! Here it’s not Halloween that counts but All Souls Day tomorrow – is it the same where you are I wonder? Have a lovely and restful weekend 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It sounds much more fun than today. Here it’s acknowledged to some degree but hardly noticeable. It may be different in Athens. I’m not sure about All Souls Day. It sounds much more likely but I’d have to check on my iPhone app of Greek holidays and I can’t be a***d!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Somehow hard to imagine Victoria having fun, when there are so many depictions of her sad and stern. Nice to read about the celebrations, but a shame about the girl who died from swallowing the chicken liver. What a way to go!
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful article. We did a variation of ducking for apples in which a fork was held between the teeth of a person who knelt on a chair. The water in the tub of apples on the floor was swished around and you’d to drop the fork in an attempt to pierce an apple. Another game I remember was common on Halloween was eating a treacle scone. The scone was suspended on a string and the person had to stand, hands clasped behind his back and eat the wildly swinging scone.

    Liked by 1 person

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