Halloween Games of the Past
Times have changed from when we were growing up, and they have definitely changed since 1896. In researching Halloween games of the past, I brought down a book entitled Parlor Games by Helen Hollister (Penn Publishing Company, 1896) from my game shelf. I knew there was a chapter dedicated to Halloween games in this book and thought it might be interesting to include some old games which are not commonly played today at our next Halloween party.
After reading a while, I realized why some of the games mentioned are not played anymore! Any game which includes a warning of, “Players must use great caution to avoid a terrible fall” is most likely to be frowned upon in our present times. But, I don’t know, a few surprises for guests from the host may just add to the frightful night.
The game which gave the above stated warning is called The Mirror of Fate. This game requires a player to go to the very top story of the house; all the way to the attic if the house has one. At this point he is given a lighted candle and a hand mirror. He then must travel backwards, down all the stairs of the house, while looking only into the Mirror of Fate in front of him, and holding the candle for light. He is even to go down the basement steps.
The book doesn’t say who the winner is. I suppose it must be the one left without a broken leg or cracked skull. Or maybe it is the person who accomplished the task the fastest.
The next one I read, and raised my eyebrows at in surprise, is called Snap Dragon. The directions for this game instruct the host to place numerous raisins in a saucer or dish. So far so good. But then, it says, “Pour alcohol over the raisins and set fire to the alcohol!” Players of the game are to try and ‘snap’ out the raisins from the dish. It adds, “If done very quickly the fingers will not get burned.” There is not a warning with these instructions, but it does say who the winner is. The player who can snap out the greatest number of raisins wins!
The last one I will mention involves giving all players a sharp kitchen knife. I am guessing this game is played only if you trust all your guests. The game is called Slicing Flour. The host fills a medium sized bowl with flour and presses it down compactly. Then he turns it over on a large plate in the center of the table. After taking the bowl away, he places a small ring on top of the flour mound.
Players take turns ‘slicing the flour’ away with their knives, with the goal to not disturb the ring on top. The unfortunate player who slices the flour and knocks the ring from position, must then be the player who picks up the ring from the pile of flour with his teeth. All players are said to be sure to laugh ‘heartily’ over his attempts to pick the ring up from the flour. My thought is there will be flour everywhere! Sounds like fun!
Actually, I think I might be back to ‘Bobbing for Apples’ and playing ‘What’s the Object’! Oh heck, it’s Halloween! We are going to play The Mirror of Fate, Snap Dragon, and Slicing Flour at our next Halloween party!
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