A 1919 Halloween Party: Spooks, Goops, Witches, Nut Hunts, and Ghost Fires

From The Bisbee Daily Review (Phoenix, AZ), Oct. 31, 1919:
 “Of course, no Halloween gathering is true to form without witches, spooks, candies, diving for apples and fortune telling wizards. But here are some suggestions as to how to marshal the ghosts, spooks, and witches to get the most fun.
     First of all, Halloween requires special decorations. The whole house may be decorated at extremely low cost and yet elaborately. Get out into the country and bring in quantities of autumn leaves and golden rod. With plenty of orange and black tissue paper and a few pumpkin lanterns, the whole place can be made very festive indeed. 
Spooks and Goops
     Invitations should be send out about a week before the party. Ask a number of girls to be ‘spooks,’ some to be ‘goops,’ and other ghosts. Ghosts are all white-the usual garment made out of a sheet and pillow case. The ‘goop’ costume is accomplished with dark skirts fastened at the waist and caught over the head. At the waist line a stick is fastened to form arms on which to hang a sweater which reaches to the floor. This gives the effect of a queer little body and enormous head.
     During the evening the ghosts, spooks and goops should be very busy; also the goops may dance and do clever stunts. At the front door as the guests arrive, one of the ghosts should be stationed to receive people in the dark. She must shake hands with everybody-not a soul should be allowed to escape her clammy, cold hand. This is really and old cotton glove, stuffed with boiled rice and kept on ice for several hours.
Witch’s Dungeon.
     After the ghost, still in the dark, the guest is confronted with the spook, who is armed with a bellows. She springs out suddenly and blows fierce blasts in the face of the unsuspecting guest. Then the goops appear and lead the now protesting guests in the dark through the witch’s dungeon. Here they must climb over obstacles, crawl through narrow openings and walk ten feet on a piece of rubber hose!
     When all of the guests have met the ghosts, spooks and goops, the witch appears. She is directing the festivities.
The whole evening should be crammed full of stunts and games and tricks. Ducking for apples, fortune telling, peeling apples without breaking the peel, so your wish will come true, doughnut biting, are all fun.
     Here are three unusually good games to play at your Halloween party. The ‘Musical Nut Hunt’ will start the ball rolling and will insure ease and freedom from diffidence on the part of every guest. Try it first, because it gets your guests moving about the rooms.
     Three Letter Words
     The first player spells out a word of three letters; any word, like ‘pie’ for example. The next player spells a word of three letters beginning with the last letter of the word just given. In the example it would be ‘e’ and the chance to give ‘eat,’ the third following with ‘t,’ ‘tea.’ No word can be given twice, and anyone failing to give a word must drop out of the game.
Testing Fate
     Seven candles, each marked signifying some special good fortune-money, travel, fame, promotion, wristwatch, diamond ring, marriage-are placed around the room. Players in turn, blindfolded with a black handkerchief so that no light can penetrate, are turned three times to the center of the room and then allowed to walk forward four steps and blow thrice. When candle is extinguished, its particular luck falls to the player within the year.
     Someone seated at a piano begins to play ‘a chestnut.’ This is the signal to start gathering nuts which are hidden all over the house. When the music stops short, players must hold the exact attitudes in which they are caught until the music begins again or pay a forfeit to the witch. This will be perfectly ludicrous at times and will cause great merriment. When three chords are sounded all must return with their treasures to the piano, where a prize is awarded for the most points. To make it doubly interesting each variety should score differently-an almond, 6 points, maybe; a huge cocoanut, 2 points; a Brazil nut, 10, and so on.”
From the same page were suggestions for ways you could find out about your marital fate.
“You Are Sure to See SOMETHING in the Flames” (*It looks like it was spelled, “Flafes.”)
It is the night o’ Ha’ owe’en
When all the witches may be seen;
Some o’ them black, some o them green,
Some o’ them like a turkey bean.
     Whatever a ‘turkey bean’ may be like-
     Nevertheless the fact remains that for centuries young men and maids on the eve of All Saints’ Day have invoked ghostly information as to their futures.
     There are many methods of doing this-such as holding a candle-lighted mirror over your head and walking backward down a crooked stairway as the clock strikes midnight. If you are a girl the apparition of your future husband will cloud the mirror’s surface. If you are a man vice versa.
Your Future Husband
     But the oldest as well as the most mirth provoking mode of procedure is the ghost fire.
     A ghost fire is made as follows:
     A big dish pan is placed in the center of the floor of a dark room. The pan contains some four or five pounds of salt which has been fairly well saturated with wood alcohol. The party gathers around the pan, chanting the incantation quoted above. Each has been given a chestnut, and each chestnut has been marked in some distinguishing way. A lighted match is thrown on the salt, which breaks into a blaze that gives off an uncanny green light. The chestnuts are then thrown in and the girls whose chestnut pops first will be the first bride. Of course, she must immediately eat the chestnut. BUT-that is not all.
     She is supposed to see the face of her future husband arising from the flames!
The Ghost Fire
     This ghost fire is a direct survival of the earliest Druid rituals. In Scotland, Ireland and Wales Druidism left its impress upon the later Christian faith, and to this day traces of its fire altars are still found. 
     Now, the Druids believed in transmigration of couls [souls], and on the eve of their festival to the hun they lighted their fire altars to propotiate [propitiate] the spirits of darkness. The custom was kept up in parts of Great Britain until a comparatively recent period. None of the levity caused by the modern ‘witch fire’ however was attached to this observance. Instead of chestnuts being roasted, white stones, each previously marked with the name of a member of the family, were thrown into the Hallowe’en fire. Prayers were then said and the family went to bed hoping to find all the stones again in the morning. If any stones were missing, it betokened that the owner of it would die within the year.
     While some superstitions are pretty, this was one of many which were cruel. Happily only sportiveness remains today of this quaint old-time ceremony, and whatever incantations are chanted have to do with healthy nonsense.”