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Ghosts of Halloween Past: Vintage Halloween Decorations

Updated on October 15, 2016
One of the vintage Halloween decorations in my collection.
One of the vintage Halloween decorations in my collection.

Capturing the Spirit(s) of Halloweens Past

I'll never forget the first time I saw one of those paper mache jack-o-lanterns with the paper eyes at an antique show. Did I ever feel old! But I also felt such a wave of nostalgia for a simpler time when parents didn't have to worry about kids going trick-or-treating in their neighborhood and life seemed more connected to the seasons.

But most of all, the old Halloween decorations bring back memories of bobbing for apples with coins hidden inside at a costume party in an orange and black crepe-paper-ribbon festooned basement, of the big house on the hill where they gave out quarters instead of bags of candy, of helping my mom fill the goodie bags the night before and tie them with orange ribbons, of weeks of anticipation.

I remember each cardboard cut-out hung around the house and in the windows, the paper haunted house that took an hour to assemble every year, the sound of honeycomb stand-up decorations being unfolded, the sheets-turned-into-ghosts "flying" among the trees, the smell of apple cider and cookies cut into halloween shapes.

Some of my Vintage Halloween Decorations

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Jack-o-lantern and Owl Halloween decorations with Pumpkin Head CandleThis old Halloween decoration has movable arms & legs that you can position as you want. This one is actually quite scary to a lot of younger kids.Black Cat Halloween decorationTwo more Halloween candles - Love the black cat inside the jack-o-lantern and the ornery old witchAccordian legged scarecrow and black cat to hangMy paper mache jack-o-lantern candy cachepot. The paper features were lost long ago.My favorite Witch decoration! Actually, the original is quite worn out - this is a vintage reproduction
Jack-o-lantern and Owl Halloween decorations with Pumpkin Head Candle
Jack-o-lantern and Owl Halloween decorations with Pumpkin Head Candle
This old Halloween decoration has movable arms & legs that you can position as you want. This one is actually quite scary to a lot of younger kids.
This old Halloween decoration has movable arms & legs that you can position as you want. This one is actually quite scary to a lot of younger kids.
Black Cat Halloween decoration
Black Cat Halloween decoration
Two more Halloween candles - Love the black cat inside the jack-o-lantern and the ornery old witch
Two more Halloween candles - Love the black cat inside the jack-o-lantern and the ornery old witch
Accordian legged scarecrow and black cat to hang
Accordian legged scarecrow and black cat to hang
My paper mache jack-o-lantern candy cachepot. The paper features were lost long ago.
My paper mache jack-o-lantern candy cachepot. The paper features were lost long ago.
My favorite Witch decoration! Actually, the original is quite worn out - this is a vintage reproduction
My favorite Witch decoration! Actually, the original is quite worn out - this is a vintage reproduction

I still treasure every worn out piece of Halloween paper, wax, or plastic I still have.

Perhaps that is because they remind me of the hands that lovingly unwrapped them each year and carefully let us kids handle them and help place them around the house.

Perhaps because it reminds me of my childhood and of sharing those same decorations with my son when he was young.

Or perhaps I'm just a sentimental fool. Whatever the reason, they still give me a warm fuzzy feeling. And I still search for replacements for a few that did not survive or were too worn out and fragile to use - especially that haunted house.

So let me know if you find one.

Vintage Collectible Halloween Decorations

Vintage Art Bobbing for Apples Garden Flag
Vintage Art Bobbing for Apples Garden Flag | Source

Bobbing for Apples


People usually think of bobbing for apples involving trying to "bite" an apple out of a basin of water, but we played a different version when I was a kid.

The apples were hung with a string tied tightly around the stem and suspended from above using a clothesline or otherwise attaching them to a ceiling. With our hands behind our backs, and sometimes blindfolded, we'd try to "catch" the swinging apple by biting into it -- no easy feat with child-sized mouths, I assure you!

The custom of bobbing for apples originated when the Romans conquered the Celts and introduced the apple tree. Apples, which ripened in the fall, were the symbol of Pomona, the Roman goddess of fertility. When you cut an apple in half, the seeds form a pentagram, which was a Celtic fertility symbol. The apple became part of Samhain, the precursor of All Hallow's Eve (Halloween).

Since Samhain was believed to be a magical time, and given the symbolism of the apple, the custom of bobbing for apples was born.

Young unmarried people would either bob for apples in water or hanging on strings. The first to bite an apple would be the next to marry.

Vintage Bobbing for Apples Art

VIntage image above is available in a variety of sizes and formats from
VIntage image above is available in a variety of sizes and formats from | Source

Vintage or New?

How do you like your Halloween?

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WITCH FLYING BROOM MOON HALLOWEEN BLACK CAT PUMPKIN VINTAGE POSTER REPRO
WITCH FLYING BROOM MOON HALLOWEEN BLACK CAT PUMPKIN VINTAGE POSTER REPRO

Vintage poster reproduction printed on high quality heavyweight matte paper. Image size is 12 x 16 inches. Made in the United States.

 

New Reproductions of Old Vintage Halloween Decorations

New Reproduction Vintage Halloween Decorations - The Best of Both!

Do You Have a Favorite Halloween Memento from Your Childhood?

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    • chezchazz profile image
      Author

      Chazz 3 years ago from New York

      @violetanarusevi: Thank you! Appreciate being in such good company too.

    • violetanarusevi profile image

      Violeta Naruseviciute 3 years ago from Bristol, England

      I did not celebrate halloween. However, I am starting this year by writing a blog post and I hope you do not mind for me including a link to your lens in it here: http://badasscontent.com/fun-ideas-for-halloween-2...

    • ViolaSuSi profile image

      ViolaSuSi 3 years ago

      In Europe, Halloween is more recent. Usually kids put on masks or paint their faces in a scaring way and have fun going treat-or-tricking in the shops or small stores long the streets.