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Halloween Merrymaking: An Illustrated Celebration of Fun, Food and Frolics from Halloweens Past [Hardcover]

Diane C. Arkins
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
RRP: 16.95
Price: 15.49 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Sep 2004
Halloween celebrations from the 1890s to the 1930s are considered the Golden Age of what is now the fastest-growing holiday in the USA. This colourful book is a celebration in itself, a tribute to the mirthful and innocent revels of yesteryear presented with vintage photographs, decorative images, prose, and poetry. Recipes, games, costumes, party ideas, and decorations, along with excerpts from vintage periodicals, show the gaiety that epitomised historic Halloween celebrations with merry conviviality, vibrant imagery, and unbridled fun.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Pelican Publishing Co (1 Sep 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158980113X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589801134
  • Product Dimensions: 24.3 x 20.8 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,432,474 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Diane C. Arkins is a full-time freelance writer and is also the author of "Halloween: Romantic Art and Customs of Yesteryear" ($19.95)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Seasonal Treat 18 Oct 2011
By Adrian Drew TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This wonderful publication captures the spirit of Halloween past with its delightful illustrations and informative text.
Perhaps it's not for everyone - but for those who love this magical autumn festival, it will provide hours of enjoyment.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A mostly-charming treat...just one trick. 5 Oct 2004
By THEATRIX - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I awaited the release of this book with keen anticipation, and overall, find it a delightful retrospective of Halloween celebrations of days gone by. The excerpts from vintage magazines and party guides are charming. My chief complaint lies with the design and treatment of the visuals in the book - they are painfully small. At such a reduced size, they don't allow the reader to fully appreciate the charm of the vintage advertisements, postcards, invitations and photos of costumed revelers.
58 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A VINTAGE LOOK AT HALLOWEEN 6 Jun 2005
By Tim Janson - Published on Amazon.com
We Americans tend to be somewhat near-sighted in our view of Halloween in thinking that our celebration of the day is relatively a modern fascination. And, in truth, Halloween has boomed in the past twenty years to become second only to Christmas in decorating and celebrating the season. As Diane C. Arkins shows in this wonderful book, however, Halloween has been widely celebrated for well over one hundred years and this book concentrates on what Arkins calls Halloween's golden age from the 1870's to the 1930's. The book is filled with hundreds of vintage photographs, illustrations, and magazine reprints from the period.

Halloween was not the ghoulish, gory holiday that it is today, but rather a day of revelry when people would hold parties for adults as well as children. Throughout the book writers of the times dispense advice, squarely aimed at women, on how to throw a successful Halloween party. We begin with invitations with some classic examples of period artwork depicting pumpkins, witches or black cats. Showing far more thought, as well as sophistication, magazines even gave advice on what to write, often favoring catchy little rhymes.

Halloween decorations became widely available during the 1910's and Halloween Merrymaking presents hundreds of photographs depicting these vintage decorations. Illustrations and photos show various themes of the times. Interestingly, many of these decorations are being recaptured these days by modern crafters. The fantastic crepe` paper and paper Mache decorations are a collectors dream!

Party favors presented to children or adults were staples of Halloween get-togethers in the golden age. A popular idea of the 20's and 30's was "Jack Horner Pies" in which a centerpiece stood in the middle of the table with ribbons pulled to the end of the table, separating it into wedges, one for each guest. Within each wedge the hostess places small gifts or party favors such as fortunes, written in milk on paper so they would be invisible until held under a light, The fortune would hen be placed inside a walnut shell.

The magazines of the era also offered advice on what to serve for your party and included such forgotten delicacies as Little Goblin Stuffed Eggs and Moon Sandwiches. The book even provides sample menus for different types of parties such as formal, informal, or children's. Next up is the entertainment with suggestions on music and dances and games, as well as advice on costumes. During the 20's and 30's occultism was extremely popular and the book offers numerous fortune-telling and divination games that people could play at their parties.

Finally Arkins reprints several full, vintage articles on Halloween from magazines such as Woman's Home Companion, Woman's World, and Ladies Home Journal. You really get a sense after reading the book just how much Halloween was enjoyed back then without the rampant commercialism of today. This is a nostalgic walk back in time to an era of simplicity and fun. It's fun and educational to see how our grandparents and great-grandparents may have celebrated Halloween decades ago. Highly recommended!
31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Day To You, Sweet Autumn: So Gently You Appear 29 Sep 2004
By The Wingchair Critic - Published on Amazon.com
Diane C. Arkins' 'Halloween Merrymaking: An Illustrated Celebration of Fun, Food, and Frolics from Halloweens Past' (2004) offers a poignant but hopeful glimpse back into American high culture and the "Golden Age of American Halloween," which the author locates between 1870 and the early 1930s. Today, many deny that such a high culture ever existed in this country, or, if willing to make such an admission, will tar that culture as "elitist" and "oppressive."

Yet, at present, Americans everywhere crave a richer, more substantial, and refined existence than the mediocre model that the current popular culture promotes and sustains. 'Halloween Merrymaking' looks back on a time when neighborhood and community, good manners and retail integrity, decorum and propriety, dress and composure, breeding and ingenuity, were all essential and unavoidable aspects of daily American life.

Such cultural elements certainly represented strictures in some cases, but the rewards for such discipline was enormous: a thriving, evolving, positivistic, and multi-tiered society that strove to refine and improve itself in any number of ways.

Stressing above all that Halloween in the Golden Age was "hardly a monster's ball by any stretch of the imagination," Arkins focuses on the holiday as it was celebrated in magazines and periodicals of the era, which subtly dictated the civilized manner in which this most anarchic of American holidays was enjoyed by parents and children alike, whether at family gatherings, church socials, classroom frolics, bridge parties, or comparatively chic adult soirees.

While children's party treats include the expected cakes, donuts, and candies brightly wrapped in autumn colors, a typical adult menu unselfconsciously suggests Oyster Canapes, Lobster Bisque, Waldorf Salad, and Broiled Squab.

Though the preface states that Halloween Merrymaking is not a "how-to manual" in the traditional sense, the book has sections lovingly devoted to "old fashioned" invitations, interior and exterior decoration, party favors, preparation of the party table, menus, costuming, appropriate music, and suitable games such as apple bobbing, nutshell auguries, tea leaf divination, and other forms of fun and fortune telling that have long roots in British history and folklore.

Though the finest commercial Halloween decorations, party favors, and costumes of the period are featured and emphasized, there are also numerous suggestions for making comparable items from orange, black, and white crepe paper and cardboard, standard kitchen vegetables, and other readily available materials. Ingenuity, enthusiasm, and a happy "can do" attitude are underscored throughout. America was largely an agricultural society at this time, a fact the book reflects in a number of meaningful and practical ways.

Halloween Merrymaking includes period photographs of parties and costumed partygoers, magazine covers and entire magazine articles (such as 1906's "A Jolly Forest Halloween" and 1909's "Under The Pumpkin Vine At Halloween"), and a wide variety of imaginatively depicted period reproductions of witches, jack o' lanterns, black cats, ghosts, harvest moons, owls, and fairies.

Highly recommended to those seeking inspiration and a cure for cynicism, apathy, and the present third-rate norm.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lively survey of festivities and small color photos 5 Feb 2005
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Halloween Merrymaking: An Illustrated Celebration Of Fun, Food, And Frolics From Halloweens Past

by Diane Arkins is a very fine year-round family or community library acquisition illustrating the Halloween celebration of fun, food and holiday partying. This is no repeat history: material from a range of the vintage party guides and magazines that guided hostesses in their party-giving endeavors is presented and showcased in a lively survey of festivities and small color photos.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful journey into Halloween's past 20 Oct 2004
By L. Johnston - Published on Amazon.com
A most thoroughly enjoyable book about Halloween. Wonderfully written and beautifully illustrated it takes you back to a bygone era of Halloween celebratons. A must have book for anyone who is interested in vintage Halloween.
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