Sunday, October 23, 2011

Apple Superstitions

Do you remember the days when a waitress brought you glasses of water with the menus every time you went into a restaurant?  Tables were often already set with a upside-down coffee cup on the saucer.  And, you turned the coffee cup upright to indicate you wanted coffee.  I wonder if they still do that in some old-fashioned restaurants.  Mom always said not drinking all of the glass of water would mean disappointment.  I thought that was her way of getting me to drink more water, but it turns out this was an old custom.

With Halloween just around the corner, I've been thinking a lot about superstitions.  So many of them are handed down from our families and we often don't realize they are superstitions.  Every fall, Grandma and I would peel apples.  She was able to peel the whole apple without breaking the peel.  She told me that if you could do that, and drop it on the floor, it would form the initial of your future beau.  I often thought that was her way of getting me to be more careful.  Another apple custom was used when twisting off the apple stem.  With each turn of the stem, a letter was said aloud, starting with 'A' and continuing down the alphabet.  Once the stem broke, you were to say the first name beginning with that letter that popped into your head.  This would be the name of your future beau.  To this day, I still follow this custom when removing apple stems.  I mostly make it to the letter 'E', though, I've never dated anyone named Edgar!

I thought you might enjoy reading about some apple customs.  Let me know if you have any that you don't see here. 
A Hallowe'en mirror is made by the rays of the moon shining into a looking-glass. If a girl goes secretly into a room at midnight between October and November, sits down at the mirror, and cuts an apple into nine slices, holding each on the point of a knife before she eats it, she may see in the moonlit glass the image of her lover looking over her left shoulder, and asking for the last piece of apple

Apple-ducking is still a universal custom in Scotland. A sixpence is sometimes dropped into the tub or stuck into an apple to make the reward greater. The contestants must keep their hands behind their backs

The seeds of apples were used in many trials. Two stuck on cheeks or eyelids indicated by the time they clung the faithfulness of the friends named for them.

In a tub float stemless apples, to be seized by the teeth of him desirous of having his love returned. If he is successful in bringing up the apple, his love-affair will end happily.

An apple is peeled all in one piece, and the paring swung three times round the head and dropped behind the left shoulder. If it does not break, and is looked at over the shoulder it forms the initial of the true sweetheart's name.

On the stems of the apples which are to be dipped for may be tied names; for the boys in one tub, for the girls in another. Each searcher of the future must draw out with his teeth an apple with a name which will be like that of his future mate.

A variation of the Irish snap-apple is a hoop hung by strings from the ceiling, round which at intervals are placed bread, apples, cakes, peppers, candies, and candles. The strings are twisted, then let go, and as the hoop revolves, each may step up and get a bite from whatever comes to him. By the taste he determines what the character of his married life will be,—whether wholesome, acid, soft, fiery, or sweet. Whoever bites the candle is twice unfortunate, for he must pay a forfeit too. An apple and a bag of flour are placed on the ends of a stick, and whoever dares to seize a mouthful of apple must risk being blinded by flour. Apples are suspended one to a string in a doorway. As they swing, each guest tries to secure his apple. To blow out a candle as it revolves on a stick requires attention and accuracy of aim.

Among the quieter tests some of the most common are tried with apple-seeds. As in England a pair of seeds named for two lovers are stuck on brow or eyelids. The one who sticks longer is the true, the one who soon falls, the disloyal sweetheart. Seeds are used in this way to tell also whether one is to be a traveler or a stay-at-home. Apple-seeds are twice ominous, partaking of both apple and nut nature. Even the number of seeds found in a core has meaning. If you put them upon the palm of your hand, and strike it with the other, the number remaining will tell you how many letters you will receive in a fortnight. With twelve seeds and the names of twelve friends, the old rhyme may be repeated:

"One I love,Two I love,Three I love, I say;Four I love with all my heart:Five I cast away.Six he loves,Seven she loves,Eight they both love;Nine he comes,Ten he tarries,Eleven he courts, andTwelve he marries."
A girl who sits before a mirror at midnight on Hallowe'en combing her hair and eating an apple will see the face of her true love reflected in the glass. Standing so that through a window she may see the moon in a glass she holds, she counts the number of reflections to find out how many pleasant things will happen to her in the next twelve months.

When eating an apple, snap it with the fingers and name it for a person of the opposite sex. Count the fully developed seeds (all of the others are kisses), and the last one must correspond to the following formula:—

One’s my love,Two’s my love,Three’s my heart’s desire.Four I’ll take and never forsake,Five I’ll cast in the fire.Six he loves,Seven she loves,Eight they both love,
[39]Nine he comes,Ten he tarries,Eleven he goes,Twelve he marries.Thirteen honor,Fourteen riches,All the rest are little witches.Baldwinsville, N. Y.

Some change the latter lines of this formula into

Thirteen they quarrel,Fourteen they part,Fifteen they die with a broken heart.

Similar rhymes commonly repeated in northern Ohio, after naming an apple and counting the seeds, are,—

One I love,Two I love,Three I love, I say.Four I love with all my heart,And five I cast away.Six he loves,Seven she loves,Eight they both love.Nine he comes,Ten he tarries,Eleven he courts,And twelve he marries.Prince Edward Island and Mansfield, O.

Lay in the hand four apple-seeds and have some one name them, then pick them up, saying,—

This one I love all others above,And this one I greatly admire,And this one I’ll take and never forsake.And this one I’ll cast in the fire.

A love divination by way of apple-seeds, much practiced when a number of young people were spending the evening together, or perhaps by grown-up boys and girls in district schools as they ate their noon-day lunch about the stove, was as follows:—

Two seeds were named, one for a girl and one for a young man, and placed on a hot stove or in front of an open fire. The augury, concerning the future relations of the young people was derived from the behavior of the two seeds. If as they heated they jumped[40] away from one another, the two persons would become estranged or their friendship die; if the seeds moved nearer together, marriage was implied; if the one named for the girl moved towards the other, it signified that the young woman was fonder of the young man than he was of her, and so on.

A common project in my girlhood was to place an apple-seed on each of the four fingers of the right hand, that is, on the knuckles, first moistening them with spittle. A companion then ‘named’ them, and the fingers were worked so as to move slightly. The seed that stayed on the longest indicated the name of your future husband.

Name apple-seeds and place on the lids of the closed eyes. Wink and the first to fall off shows the name of your future husband.

To name apple-seeds, put one on each temple, get some one to name them, and the one that sticks the longest will be the true one.

Name apple pips, put them on the grate, saying,—

If you love me, live and fly;If you do not, lie and die.
A Halloween custom is to fill a tub with water and drop into it as many apples as there are young folks to try the trick. Then each one must kneel before the tub and try to bite the apples without touching them with the hands. The one who bites one first will marry first.

On Halloween hang an apple by the door just the height of the chin. Rub the chin with saliva, stand about six inches from the apple, and hit the chin against the apple. If it sticks to the chin, you will be married, and your true love will stick to you.

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