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Hello! Lindsay Dianne here of “It’s a Charming Life”, honored to be writing on Anna’s blog. My husband, Jonas, and I run a lifestyle blog together and share our passion for all things charming, enchanting, and bygone while we enjoy mindful living in a vintage cottage not far from Sleepy Hollow, NY.
Since it ‘tis near All Hallows’ Eve, I thought it would be fun to share about the origin of Halloween postcards. Since I was a little girl, I’ve long been drawn to the quirky little pumpkin faces and women dressed in long gowns. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized these were from the Victorian era. In fact, the very first postcards were made in the mid 1800s as a way to send a quick note to a friend, and later souvenir postcards became popular with holiday greetings to follow.
In the Victorian era, Halloween wasn’t at all what we know it today with trick-or-treating and candy. October 31st still had many of its pagan Celtic Samhain origins and superstitions tied along with it that came over with the Irish immigrants who first carved jack-o’-lanterns in turnips but found more pumpkins in America.
Many of the customs and folklore of the time can be seen depicted in Halloween postcards, a trend that lasted roughly until 1918.
Looking at the illustrations on the postcards gives a whimsical window into the past. It’s clear to see that magic and charms wasn’t only for witches at the time. Depicted in many of the postcards is fair maidens saying a chant or performing a spell, many of them in search of their true love’s face in the looking glass or a name in the peelings of an apple.
What’s also clear to see is the fear of the spiritual realm, as it was believed the veil between worlds to be the thinnest at this time of year. On the other hand, some witches are portrayed as good luck.
We can’t know for certain how the Victorians would spend Halloween night, but it’s easy to imagine them at a harvest frolic playing parlour magic, telling ghost stories, and enjoying each other’s company. A strange but beautiful way to celebrate before the dark months ahead. May we take a tip from the Victorians, to embrace the things that frighten us and make light of them. We wish you a very jolly Hallowe’en.
P.S. Do you belong to those who would rather greet your family and friends with a handwritten old-fashioned postcard, instead of those non-personal text messages that we nowadays drown in? We have autumn postcards available that not only have a personally written poem but also a cozy fall scenery, inspired by our lives at Cobweb Cottage. If you want to wish Happy Autumn but not make it "Thanksgiving" or "Halloween" something, this card is for you. Because a warm greeting does not have to be associated with a holiday, but just a dear thought from one kindred spirit to another.