Halloween: Cake and Candles

Adobe Stock

Prolific nineteenth-century domestic scientist, Sarah Tyson Hetson Rorer, in her Home Games and Parties (1898,  p. 139), wrote about some of the old Halloween customs. The ancient association of Halloween with fertility and love comes out in this section of Home Games and Parties:


MUCH sport may be had at suppertime by having a large cake in the centre of the table with as many candles around it as there are guests, each candle a different color. The cake is passed last. The guests each take a candle and a piece of cake, choosing whatever color pleases their fancy. As they do so some one reads:

He who takes the candle blue,
Will find his sweetheart ever true.

The pink, the sweetest of them all,
Will wed a fellow six feet tall.

Alas, for yellow, bright to see,
Your lover e’er will jealous be.

Happy she who orange takes ;
Now begin your wedding cake.

Hopeless, homeless bachelor he,
If white candle his should be.

The hostess may evolve some other pleasant and clever couplets to finish the list. The candles come in play later, when each tries his or her fate. All candles lighted, each holds his at arm’s length, and blows three times; should the candle go out the first time, he will be married that year; if the second, in two years; if the third, in three years.

Supper may be served between the games and fate-charms, or afterward, and may consist of salads, sandwiches, biscuits, olives, cakes, nuts, apples, and coffee.