Monday, October 29, 2018

All-Hallow Eve games in Scotland: Snap-apple and bobbing for apples

Over the years I have written about various Halloween games, but my favorite is Snap-apple HERE - not that I would try it... The following 1871 excerpt described "the simple Halloween amusement commenced in the kitchen," snap-apple and diving for apples.

It was when the tea [served after dark] was over that the simple Halloween amusement commenced in the kitchen. From the ceiling there were suspended light wood-work crosses, some two feet across, by a string fastened in the centre, so that the cross swung horizontally. On two of the points small sockets, to hold a candle, had been fastened, and the other ends sharpened to a fine point, so that apples could be fixed by being forced on the points. Small pieces of lighted candle were placed in the sockets, and two fine, rosy-cheeked apples were placed on the alternate points.

"Now then, boys, who's for snap-apple?" shouted Mr. Balderson.

Half-a-dozen boys stepped forward with their jackets off and tight fitting "bishops," as the pinafores were called, over them. A gentle circular motion was given to the cross. Snap, went one of the boys at the biggest apple with a view of biting, and ere he could catch it, one of the lighted candles came full into his half-opened mouth, amid the laughter of the bystanders.

"Never mind, Jock," shouted Mr. Balderson. "Now, Willie, lad," said he, encouragingly, to a smaller boy who cautiously tried on the other; bob went the apple, and Willie ducked his head when the candle came round. Another lad tried, and again failed. Jock, as he was called, and Willie kept the fun up by repeated attempts to secure the apples. It was laughable to see the boys with their hands tied by their side darting again and again at the swinging rotary apples, until a loud shout proclaimed that Willie had secured the first prize. By a little practice and a small amount of caution, it was found possible to seize the apples without getting burnt, or obtaining tallow instead of fruit.

Bobbing for apples and sixpence
This [snap apple] was better fun than diving for apples in a tubful of water. So adept were some of the boys, that they could secure the apple at the first attempt. The old cook kept the tub supplied with apples; and the splashing, screaming, and laughter, showed how much the old-fashioned sport was enjoyed, notwithstanding the cold water and drenched hair. The boys then dived to the bottom of the tub for sixpences, which Mr. Balderson threw in. This was a more difficult feat than bobbing for apples, as you could not see the sixpence, even though it was thrown as near the middle of the tub as possible.
Routledge’s Every Boy’s Annual.  London: 1871   

Halloween posts HERE
Snap-apple image from The Book of Halloween by Ruth Edna Kelley.  Boston: 1919

©2018 Patricia Bixler Reber
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