It all began with an 1885 poem written by James Whitcomb Riley that ends with this verse:
When the night is dark and scary,
and the moon is full and creatures are a flying and
the wind goes Whoooooooooo,
you better mind your parents and your teachers fond and dear,
and cherish them that loves ya, and dry the orphans tears
and help the poor and needy ones that cluster all about,
or the goblins will get ya if ya don't watch out!!!
I always think of the poem as Halloween approaches and remember my older sister who memorized it as a child and still could recite it in her eighties. She had a delightful way of fixing her face and shaking her finger on the "goblins'll getcha if you don't watch out".
I'm not sure goblins is a widely used word in connection with the holiday anymore. I started to look for some old Halloween decorations to share here but settled, instead, on postcards. In the late 1800's and early 20th century little messages and greetings were exchanged on post cards that cost 1 cent to buy and about that much to mail. Many were tiny works of art. There are some famous names that have become very collectible. Raphael Tuck was probably the most prominent. We didn't find one to freely copy here but cardcow.com has an incredible selection of his cards including Halloween.
In the Victorian era and for many years after, a good way to send a Halloween wish was a postcard. Pumpkins, witches, owls and black cats all seem to fall into the goblin category. This witch and pumpkin look innocuous enough but that owl is scary. That's a whooooooo for me.
Another message of witchcraft? "If in the mirror your lover is seen you'll surely be happy on Halloween". I'm pretty sure that's a Victorian idea that didn't make it to my generation. The artwork on postcards of that era is what makes them worth collecting.
"Softly cross your fingers at the witching hour; Over fates and fortunes the moon will give you power". Just when is "the witching hour?" Midnight, I suppose. Isn't that when the goblins abound?
All Hallow's Eve, or Halloween, is the night before All Saints Day which is a celebrated part of the Catholic and Anglican church's liturgy but the celebrations surrounding Halloween have been largely based on pagan practices.
I was surprised when I looked at eBay and Etsy to see what these cards are bringing these days. I don't think I will start collecting now although I was thinking a little tray of them on the counter or coffee table might be fun this time of the year. Perhaps you know of a place where the prices are reasonable. Of course there are sites with reproductions.
With all the witches and goblins and fearsomeness of it all, one is surprised to see a card that says Happy Halloween.
To you, my friends!!
This post is a modified version of one that appeared several years ago. My adorable little big sister passed away last year. I wanted to review it in memory of her.