With the Devil in the Chair, All Goes Swimmingly: A Hallowe’en Party: 1908

gentleman-in-red-devil

A HALLOWE’EN PARTY.

With the Devil in the Chair, All Goes Swimmingly.

A Halloween celebration, at which the Prince of Darkness personally presides, can be made very effective. According to directions given by a writer in “What to Eat,” the invitations should be written in red on black paper, and the guests should be asked to wear masks.

The hostess should be dressed as a witch in black, with picket hat and broom, and Satan wears red, with a red mask. There are also various subsidiary fiends (small brothers and sisters) dressed in black, with rope tails, painted caps and toasting forks at the ends of sticks.

A room can be arranged as Hades, or the basement can be used for the purpose, in which case the furnace door can be thrown open at intervals with great effect. A throne of boxes draped in black is erected in the centre of Hades, and on it Satan sits, with a book of record in his lap. A dictionary serves the purpose excellently.

At the appointed time the hostess swings open the gates of Hades or conducts the guests by a circuitous route to the basement. Two friends rush forward seize a guest and begin to prod him with their forks. Chains clank, groans are heard and the victim is led to the foot of the throne.

Here is where most of the fun comes in, for Satan knows or has been primed with all the interesting facts in the history of each guest. In a hollow voice he reads long lists of sins from the dictionary, and all the time the fiends are “torturing” the victim. As soon as one is sentenced to tooth-ache, malaria, unrequited love or headache, another victim is brought before the throne until all have been disposed of.

At supper all unmask. Satan sits at one end of the table and the witch at the other, and there is a gypsy’s kettle in the centre, which later emits a ghostly light from burning alcohol sprinkled on salt.

Daily People [New York, NY] 17 October 1908: p. 3

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: “Long lists of sins from the dictionary” begs the question: what are they? Atrocious misspellings, perhaps? Iniquitously poor grammar? Hardened and unrepentant use of split infinitives? Unless the Devil-host has a prodigious vocabulary of his own, one feels the scope of judgement is somewhat hampered; old-fashioned lexicons do not have all the up-to-date naughty words nor the modern sins.

What does one serve at such a satanic supper? The viands supplied at the Vampire’s Feast would certainly do. Mrs Daffodil also suggests devilled ham sandwiches, pasta a la fra diavolo, and, of course, devil’s-food cake. Angels on Horseback might bring the party to a premature end.

For another Hallowe’en tradition involving the Devil, see “The Jersey City Devil.”

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

 

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