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Archaeology of domestic life in early 20th century Britain

The aim of this blog is to publish data on early 20th century buildings, whilst this is still accessible. Much material of interest to the historian is being destroyed through 'home improvements' and DIY, and objects are increasingly being divorced from their context through dispersal after the death of their owners. By creating an easily accessible contextual record of material culture, it is hoped that those interested in this period of history may have a resource through which the details of domestic life might be studied.

If you have any artefacts of interest, or make discoveries during the process of your own investigations that you would like to share, please contact me!

Monday, 31 October 2011

Hallowen folklore, as told in early 1930s 'Everything Within'

Some ‘Halloween spells’ from an early 1930s volume of ‘Newnes Everything Within’

“To eat an apple on All Hallow’s Eve, seated alone before a mirror, by the light of a candle, is a very old spell, by means of which a girl seeks to see her future husband.
      The sweetheart, if she is to marry, comes behind her back and looks into the glass over her shoulder. She must go on eating until the apple is all consumed, and on no account turn her head until after the shade has faded away and she has blown out the candle.
To throw the spool. This requires courage. A girl opens the door or gate leading into the garden, and while keeping the end of the thread inher own hand, she must throw the spool into the garden, winding the end of the thread around he wedding finger until she sees her spectral lover with the bobbin in his hand. No words are to pass between them. No one must know about this spell being tried either before or after it has been accomplished.
“What will my man be like ? “ Go to the wood-pile  on 31st October and pull out the first stick that comes handy. If it is smooth, he will be young. If straight and even, he will be kind and gentle ; if knotty, he will be cantankerous. But if it is bent and withered, he will be a bad-tempered old man.
To answer any question. Run a new silk thread through a gold ring and hold it ove a tumbler of water. Ask one question that can be answered by a direct “ Yes “ or “ No “. Hold the ends of the thread steadily as you ask, then notice how many times the ring strikes against the glass. If once, the answer is “ No “. If twice, “ Doubtful “. If three times, the answer is “ Yes “.”

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