Halloween: Apples, Hazelnuts and Predicting the Future

Halloween: it’s all pumpkins, ghosts, scary decorations, costumes and getting lollies for trick and treating right?

Sadly it’s what it is nowadays, but certainly wasn’t what it used to be.

How did Halloween get from predicting your future partner to door knocking for candy? I really don’t know.

I’m not going to go into the LONG history of Halloween as you can find that on Wikipedia and elsewhere on the internet, but what I wanted to do was highlight a few of the past Halloween customs (or Hallowe’en as it’s written back then).

In general terms it sounds like Halloween (aka All Hallows Eve) was a night of music, dancing and games. These are courtesy of the South Australian Weekly Chronicle dated 28 December 1867, on Trove. You can read the full article here.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with this one. I remember it from kid’s birthday parties. Apples are placed in large buckets of water, and you have to grab the apple, without using your hands – usually getting yourself and others around you quite wet in the process.

halloween-apple-dunkingI’m not sure what the significance of that for halloween was … but according to the article is was something of a custom.

This one I’d not heard of before, and can’t quite envisage it … but I’m sure there were some injuries from it …


Apparently many of the Halloween ‘customs’ were in relation to predicting your future partner, or how suited you were to your partner. Roasting hazelnuts is one such case.


Intriguing, right? Which brings me back to the first question … how on earth did Halloween get to be from this to what it is today? I still have no clue.

Anyway I’m the first to admit I’m no fan of Halloween. I wasn’t brought up with it, and to me it’s just commercialism crap. But it sure is a big deal for many, and it was way back then as well (obviously in a different way). Now I’m wondering if my any of ancestors were fans of Hallowe’en or not? It’d be interesting to know. And at least now you know that is wasn’t always witches, ghosts and pumpkins back then.