The weeks leading up to All Hallows’ Eve, the apple is overlooked in favor of the more popular Halloween fruit, the pumpkin. Even though it is the quintessential autumn food, it is swept under the rug for one night, despite a rich relationship with October 31st. A combination of Samhain and Victorian Halloween traditions establish the apple’s place in Halloween history.
Bobbing for apples dates back to the Roman celebration of Ponoma, the goddess of fertility. Tradition dictated that unmarried people bob for apples and the first person to bite an apple would marry next. Celts also embraced the apple as a fertility symbol due to its seed formation resembling a pentagram. However, we no longer use the game for that purpose and instead use it as a simple party game.
Apples were also a tool for those wanting to use the magic of Halloween night to predict their true love. One custom dictated that a girl must be in front of a mirror with a lighted candle. At dusk, she should brush her hair and eat an apple. While she is doing this, her lover’s face should appear in the mirror. Another legend states that you must cut an apple in half and eat one of the halves before midnight. The second half must be eaten as soon as the clock strikes midnight, or else you will not dream of your intended. if you want to find out your true love and you do not like eating the skin of an apple, there is a fortune-telling method for you. It involves peeling the apple in a single piece and tossing it over your shoulder. The peel is to reveal the first letter of your soul mate’s name (and you get to eat a peeled apple). The final way has the person cutting an apple in half to count the seeds. An even number is a sign of good luck in marriage, while an odd number is bad news. To add to the number of outcomes, a seed cut in half means a rough relationship. There are many more apple related customs, but they involve sleeping on them or naming seeds.
Even if the results are less than stellar, getting a portion of your daily fruit serving is always a positive thing. Of course, indulging in the classic fall variations of caramel and candied apples is also acceptable. It may not tell you your true love, but no one can resist the lure of the multi-purpose apple, especially when it is covered in something sweet.