18 October 2013

Halloween Merrymaking by Diane C. Arkins, Book review

Publisher: Pelican Publishing (September 30, 2004)
ISBN-13: 978-1589801134

(From the inside flap)

"October, the golden month, when Nature having reaped a wonder harvest of beauty, wastes it like a spendthrift for our joy! What hostess can fail of success in entertaining this month when there are autumn leaves, flowers, 'golden glorious,' and vines flushing with crimson, to bedeck the table?" --The Housekeeper, October 1910 For late-October revelers, Halloween has traditionally been filled with surprise. 
Contemporary readers, though, might be amazed to discover how vastly differently this popular holiday was celebrated in America during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Halloween observances staged between the late 1870s and the early 1930s--a period often referred to as the holiday's "Golden Age"--routinely boasted decorations gleaned from nature, clever homemade party favors, winsome (not gruesome) masquerade attire, and intriguing old, old-fashioned games that were often designed to divine the identity of one's future mate. 
Halloween Merrymaking: An Illustrated Celebration of Fun, Food, and Frolics from Halloweens Past offers a fascinating glimpse at material from a vast assortment of the vintage party guides and magazines that guided intrepid hostesses in their quests to stage parties worthy of the holiday's reputation for mystery and fun. 
Filled with illustrations and mementos, Halloween Merrymaking pays splendid tribute to the imaginative festivities of yesteryear. 
Here are my thoughts:

A nostalgic look on past All Hallows Eve's revelries, Diane C. Arkins 'Halloween Merrymaking' shows a different side to the Halloween we know these days, one which reflects surprisingly wholesome mirth and seasonal frolic in a classic setting! 
In October 1914 The Woman's Magazine  printed for their readers the following:
"Of all the months of the year, October is the most charming one in which to entertain and of all the nights in the year the thirty first of October is the most fascinating one to choose for a party. It presents so many alluring possibilities that no hostess need worry about the question of decorations, amusements or menu."

Halloween just happens to be my daughter's favourite holiday (despite some grumbling from her Dad's corner!) so when I spotted this book on a library shelf, my interest in vintage facts made it impossible for me to walk away! 
Readers, this is a marvelous edition of true Halloween merrymaking! I could not hold off posting this review as I hope many of you will have the opportunity to peruse more closely Diane's book!

Diane C. Arkins introduces readers to a whole spectrum of All Hallow's Eve past festivities. Far from the ghoulish and often scary atmosphere often associated with this holiday today, her tasteful illustration of merrymaking shows fun frolic, ingenious party decorations, costumes and food to please one and all, be they children or adults! 

With great care the author gives a marvelous look into the past using vintage magazines and party guides you will delight in discovering! 
Who would have thought such exquisite details were once undertaken to celebrate a holiday still known for mystery and fun gatherings? 
From how to personalize your invitations to decorate the haunted halls, set the perfect Halloween table including prepare food with a side of fun and individuals favours with a twist, you will enjoy discovering a whole new meaning to the 31st of October frolics!

Filled with countless memorabilia this book is a treasure you will delight in sharing with family and friends for years to come and a great source of inspiration for those classy parties you are dying to hold!
P.S. Here is a quiz for you: Do you know what a bogie* is or luggies**? (scroll down for answers)

5 Stars!!

Note to Readers: Diane C. Arkins is also the author of 'Halloween: Romantic Art and Customs of Yesteryear'!

About the Author:

Diane C. Arkins began her career as a freelance writer at the age of nineteen by publishing feature articles in Seventeen, Co-Ed, and Woman's Day magazines. In 1988, her work began to appear in the Chicago Sun-Times. 
After earning a BS in journalism from Northern Illinois University, she continued her writing endeavors by publishing magazine and newspaper stories while employed full time at the offices of the Australian Consulate-General in Chicago.

Arkins' “Home Truths” humor column appeared in the Homelife real estate section of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1988 through 2000. Her work has appeared on the Op-Ed pages of numerous major daily newspapers, including a stint as a regular contributor to USA Today. Arkins has written for Country Living, Victoria, Family Circle, Brides, Country Collectibles, Country Home, Better Homes & Gardens, Woman's World, Antiques & Collecting Magazine, and a wide variety of other publications.

Arkins has a passion for animals, gardening, and collecting vintage images, early illustrated postcards, and holiday memorabilia. 

(Source HERE

A gypsy fire is on the hearth,
Sign of the carnival of mirth,
Through the dun fields and from the glade,
Flash merry folk in masquerade,
For this is Hallowe’en! 

(Author unknown)

Note to Readers: This was a library loan. A review was not requested by either author or publisher and  reflects MY opinion only!

*Bogie: Hobgoblin
** Luggies: Fortune-vessels, so called after small bowls resembling Druids lamps.


  1. I'm going to check and see if my library has this book. It looks like a fun read. It's a Full Moon tonight....eeeee!!! We stood outside and looked at it a little while ago! Have a good weekend my friend!

  2. I noticed the moon too Diane, very clear and cool tonight on the island!
    Wishing you a great weekend!

  3. It's fun that we have all marveled about last eve's moon!
    We love the traditions from the past. We now call them "Old School" here in America in leu of "the olden days" or "the day's of old"!
    Thank you for sharing the mirth of season past!

  4. One could not ignore such a beautiful moon! Traditions are to be treasured to be sure!
    All the best,

  5. This sounds like a very interesting read. Hallowe'en isn't celebrated the same over here, although we are catching on!
    That moon picture is so beautiful.

    1. You will be inspired by the past revelries Tracey (and we have observed some fantastic moons lately!)


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