Ghosts of Halloween Past: Vintage Halloween Decorations
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 DecorationsClick thumbnail to view full-size
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
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 or New?
How do you like your Halloween?
Vintage poster reproduction printed on high quality heavyweight matte paper. Image size is 12 x 16 inches. Made in the United States.