Tag Archives: Halloween party

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



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.


A Nut-Crack Night Party: 1903

nut crack night postcard

A Nut-Crack Night Party

By Bertha Hasbrook

The enterprising Miss Jones laid down a volume of Bobby Burns with energy. “I’m going to give a Hallowe’en party that shall be a real Hallowe’en party,” she announced; and every one knew that she meant it. “Our old friend Bobby has put it into my head. Do you know that there isn’t one party in a thousand, given on the last night of October, that is historically correct? The superstitions of that night have become altered and corrupted as they have passed down for years, until an old-time North-of-England man, if he could rise from his grave, would be shocked at the absurdities perpetrated in the name of Hallowe’en. Who is there nowadays who knows the tradition of the luggies? Who ever dragged a graip in the dark outdoors? Who has eaten a supper of sowans ?”

“Where are you going to get your luggies. your graip, and your sowans?” inquired Miss Jones’s brother. “That’s exactly like you, Van Wyck,” she replied. “You’ll enjoy my party, anyway. It’s going to be so old-fashioned that it will be a novelty.” Thereupon Miss Jones plunged into books.

She studied Hallowe’en and its traditions she had never studied anything before, with the result that she discovered that even the well-known mirror-and-candle game is nowadays played incorrectly. Her guests on that 31st of October—Nut-crack night, as she called it, according to Old England’s custom—felt themselves slipping back into another century, so accurately had she reproduced the atmosphere of that other time.

Upon arriving at the Jones’s home, the guests were not directed to remove their wraps, as they expected to be. Instead, they were conducted to the drawing room, where Miss Jones received them, herself in wraps.

“We are all to go first to the bonfire,” she explained to them. “None of our efforts to peer into the future can avail until the bad spirits who abound tonight have been consumed.”

So when all the guests had arrived, she led the way outdoors to a bit of vacant land beyond the house. There an enormous bonfire was built.

“If you could but see them, you would know that the air about us is filled with evil spirits of every kind,” she explained “Warlocks and witches abound. Hobgoblins lurk in corners. They would destroy our charms if they could; they must be consumed.”

The bonfire roared merrily until the hostess declared that the air was cleared of the pest. “Now our magic may avail,” she announced. ‘

The party returned to the house, removed their wraps, and the charms were put forth.

“It will be as well for us each to knead a cake with the left thumb to start with,” she said. “Done properly, the act brings good fortune. Misfortune follows a mistake, and it’s always best to know the worst at once.”

A small, unbaked cake of stiff dough was furnished to each guest. The rule was read; the cake must be kneaded with the left thumb, while the kneader maintained absolute silence. Those who succeeded in uttering no word or exclamation were to be favored; an utterance was to bring misfortune.

Some bobbing for apples put the company into a jolly mood. This was done in the customary way, the apples floating in a tub.

“There’s no other Hallowe’en tradition as little corrupted as this,” Miss Jones said. “The one mistake made nowadays is that the hands of the players are seldom tied behind their backs—as yours are about to be. We’re in Old England now, remember, and this is a truly old-time Nut-crack night.”

nutcrack night whirling stick

There was much merriment over the whirling stick. Upon one end of this an apple was impaled; upon the other stood a lighted candle. A string was attached near the apple, and the stick suspended from the ceiling, balanced so that it hung horizontally. It was then set whirling and the players, hands still bound behind, were each given a few minutes’ turn to try for a bite out of the apple’s fat cheek. Around and around whirled the stick, so rapidly that the candle flame brushed noses and chins in the sauciest manner. Only one succeeded in biting the apple in the allotted time.

And then, when the early part of the evening was spent and the mysterious hours of night drew nearer, began the peering into the future. The romping died, and tests began— simple at first, increasingly weird as the night grew later.

There were nut experiments in the first place. By one ancient method, once familiar in Ireland, there nuts were placed upon the bars of the grate. These were named for three lovers. If any one of them cracked in the flames, or jumped forth, the one for whom it was named would prove unfaithful. Another trick was to put two nuts into the fire, as close together as possible. These were named for a man and a maid. If he leaped forth from the flames, it was a sign that he would desert her; if she leaped forth, she was to be the unfaithful one. In promise of happy matrimony the two occasionally burned merrily side by side.

The test of the three luggies, known in old-time lore, was next made. The luggies, be it known, were merely dishes, saucers in this case, all three alike. They differed in contents, however. One held clear water, one dark water, the third no water at all.

nutcrack night luggies

One by one the blindfolded guests were led before the luggies, which stood in a row upon the hearth. The player knelt before them, and groped for one; his future hung upon the choice which the Fates directed. Dipping the fingers into the clear water meant that he or she would marry a maiden or a bachelor; the dark, a widow or widower; the empty dish predicted no marriage at all. A shifting of the dishes was made before each choice, so that the Fates alone could guide.

Then the charms of darkness were tried.

It was a winding, black, and “creepy” back staircase up which the maidens were directed to seek the magic mirror. The door at the foot of the stairs clapped shut upon them; unseen stairs lay ahead. In this part of the house stillness prevailed. At the top of the stairs glimmered a light; this came from the chamber in which the magic mirror hung. Here were found a lighted candle, a dish filled with apples, and a comb. You have all tried a similar test; but how many of you have ever practised it accurately, according to the history of traditions? This is the magic mirror rule, correctly given: Stand before the mirror, comb in the right hand, apple in the left. There must be no light but that of a candle. Slowly comb your hair, at the same time eating the apple, and steadily watching the mirror. This is as far as the rule goes; what appears to you, ghostly, pale, peeping over your own shoulder—that remains to be seen.

While some were trying the mirror, others, always alone, were sowing hemp seed, or what Miss Jones was obliged to offer in its place. A handful of seed was given to the curious one, and she was sent forth to what was called “the corn-yard.” Here a sort of rick had been prepared for the occasion; a pitchfork, or graip, was placed in the sower’s hand, and she dragged it as she walked around and around the rick, chanting the magic words. These she had memorized faithfully before tempting the future, for she was warned that any error in the chant might destroy the charm. “Hemp seed, I sow thee; hemp seed, I mow thee; and who shall be my ain true love come after me and pou thee?” At the last words she peeped over her left shoulder—and there the wraithlike figure was expected to be seen, pulling ghostly hemp.

nutcrack night clew

While one tried this charm, another sought to read the future through the medium of a “clew” or ball of blue worsted. Blue is the only color which, in this case will lead the spirits of the future to reveal their secrets. “You are to go through the back door, follow the left path, and stop when you reach the kiln-house,” instructed the hostess.

Standing a few feet from the opening of the kiln-house, the girl cast the clew into it, holding as firmly as she could, in a very shaky hand, the end of the worsted. Then she began to wind a new clew from that end, the old one unwinding as she did so. The promise was that, as she came to the close of her task, she would feel a grasp upon the other end of the worsted. “Who holds?” she must cry—and the answer would be the eagerly sought vision.

nutcrack night cake

The shirt-sleeve test was to include the witching hour of twelve, so Miss Jones insisted that it be deferred until the supper of “sowans, bread, cheese, and a libation to Bacchus” had been set forth. Her form of libation proved to be delicious cider; other hostesses may suit themselves in this respect. The sowan, according to Scotch history, is an oaten cake baked hard; Miss Jones preferred to tempt her guests with a modernized Scotch cooky, made as follows: One-half cup of butter, two cups of brown sugar, one-half cup of milk, one-half teaspoonful of soda, two cups of flour, a pinch of salt, one teaspoonful of cream tartar, one teaspoonful of cinnamon, two and one-half cups of rolled oats. The mixture is to stand an hour before being dropped in small cakes upon buttered tins and baked in a moderate oven.

nutcrack night wet sleeve

And then came the final test, the trial of the wet shirt-sleeve. The left sleeve of a shirt was given to each of the seekers to be dipped into running water. In the night each one ran forth to the creek and dipped it.

Back in the house, the sleeves were hung on separate lines, and each guest watched his or her sleeve steadfastly. This must be done until twelve when the sleeve would be turned. And by whom?

Harper’s Bazar, 1903

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  There was a mysterious vogue for this romantic evocation of archaic superstitions, most of which seem to have been made out of whole cloth or misunderstood by lady folklorists who believed everything the dear old lady in the thatched cottage told them.

The hostess in this case had read entirely too much Rabby Burns, an unsuitable author, in Mrs Daffodil’s view, for an impressionable young woman. Mrs Daffodil knows that she is an impressionable young woman for she hadn’t the wit to realise that had her guests logically pursued her enthusiastic re-enactment of “Old England,” she would have been hung or burnt as a witch after that evocation at the bonfire.

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.


A Hallowe’en Game: “The Shivers”: 1919

Vintage Halloween ghost and boys postcard

A New Halloween Game

“The Shivers”

By Kate Hudson

Halloween and shudders seem to go together; then how about this game for goose-prickles? It is one Mr. Mystery Man used to play while still seated around the Halloween supper table in the proper dim, shadowy light and with all hands well underneath the overhanging witch and black cat decorated tablecloth. We christened it “The Shivers.

We played it by passing carefully “prepared-to-make-one-shiver” articles form hand to hand, without seeing what they were. It is surprising how “creepy” things entirely innocent to the sight can be to the touch. Whoever squeals or drops what he gets hold of pays a fine.

The things to pass are brought on a covered tray to Mr. or Mrs. Mystery Man at the head of the table and handed from her right hand to her neighbor’s left and then right and so on around the table. As it returns to the left hand of the one at the head of the table she drops it and takes up the next article.

Anything woolly, fluffy, slippery, cold or wabbly will feel “spooky” to the unseeing receiver. A limp bean bag, a fluff of cotton-wool, the feathery end of a bric-a-brac duster, a lucky rabbit’s foot, a bit of fur, a string of cold glass beads, an angora mitten loosely stuffed and, above all, a kid glove firmly stuffed with wet sea sand and kept on ice till needed are some things with which successfully to play “The Shivers.”

Let the Mystery Man or Woman at the head of the table wear a long cloak and mask and let everyone guess for a prize the names of the objects passed, each one making a written list when the last “shiver” has gone around the table.
The New York Tribune 26 October 1919: p. 85

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: A diverting game for the servants’ hall Hallowe’en eve! Mrs Daffodil would add that chilled glass marbles in a light coating of lard suggest eye-balls. The kid glove stuffed with sand is absurdly evocative. It is a variant on this successful séance-room ruse:

One of the most effective tricks in the séance room was the “fiery hand.” As described by a witness who captured one at a séance over the strenuous objections of the medium, “the messenger from the other world proved to be nothing more supernatural than a dirty white kid glove, rubbed with phosphorus and stuffed with wet tow; this, at the end of a thin line, was suspended from a fishing-rod which could be reduced telescopically to a length convenient for the pocket. Thus the medium could cause all manner of appalling ‘manifestations’ without rising from his chair.” Chambers Journal, William and Robert Chambers, 1882

The one drawback of this delightful holiday pastime is that “The Shivers” is certain to send the Tweeny, who is a good deal more sensitive than her station in life would require, into convulsions. Mrs Daffodil remembers only too well the recent fuss and doctor’s bills incurred over a rubber spider on an elastic; a “prank” perpetrated on that young unfortunate by a now ex-footman. But Mrs Daffodil is prepared. She has primed several of the staff to suggest to the Tweeny at dinner that she looks a bit seedy. Mrs Daffodil will then inquire solicitously if she feels feverish and could she be coming down with la grippe? An early bed-time, a glass of mulled cider (laced with a mild sedative), and a promise to save her some caramels should allow the rest of the staff to enjoy their shivery entertainments without interruption.

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.



Souvenirs for All Souls Eve: 1894

A Brownie, by Joseph Jacobs

A Brownie, by Joseph Jacobs

Souvenirs for All Souls Eve

New York, Oct. 27, 1894

Fashionable people are doing their frivoling less and less in the town and more and more at their country seats. Halloween, which, as all the world knows, comes on the last day of October, and in the heart of the Indian summer, is an ideal fete for the jolly house parties that are making merry in Lenox and Tuxedo and all along the line of the autumn stamping grounds of the smart set.

To make a short story of several detached chapters, culled from other books, Halloween is to be given over this year to feasting and dancing, and midnight trick revels that are to be robbed of their grewsomeness out of consideration for the timidity of the timorous and divested of the more boisterous bumpkin antics out of regard for elegant Belindas and Bobbies who do not like to ruin their togs bobbing for apples in a tub and doing similar feats of the peasantry.

There are to be any number of dinner parties on Halloween, with dancing for the aftermath; and for the cotillion, without which a dance nowadays is like a bird without a song, all the favors are being ordered with especially reference to the manifold folk tales of the Scottish country folk, from whom most of the Halloween tricks and trumperies have been handed down.

Foremost are the Brownies.

Good fairies, good luck. The Brownies done in gold and enamel, some of them of special magnificence, by private order, into precious stones, are harbingers of fair fortune, and as such are the star Halloween gifts of the season.

The “nits,” as the peasantry of Scotland call nuts, will be named and toasted in the big hall fireplaces of many a fine country house, but the modern maid does not like to avow her flirtatious propensities by openly naming the nuts, and for her especially delectation there are Halloween nuts this year in gold and silver that open when a tiny spring is pressed, disclosing a trinket case in which a bauble of elegant workmanship reclines, mayhap a ring, perhaps a thimble for mademoiselle’s embroidery or charity sewing.

A stick pin that has been designed for a Halloween gift gets it cue from the line of Burns’ Halloween “Pou the stocks,” or rather from the superstition that the poet there refers to. Pulling the stalk of a Kale plant is the first of the old ceremonies of the evening, and the silversmiths and goldsmiths, have made all their tiny stalks straight and fair, to show that the omen is a good one.

Of candlesticks there is an infinite variety, with one or two especially made for the eve of All Saints mysteries. One that has a mischievous sprite for a holder is quaint and bound to supply at least one extra face in the looking-glass. Another odd little holder is the stem of an apple, the fruit forming the base.

One of the most elegant gifts for a faire ladye on Halloween will be a triple mirror with candelabra attachment, a desideratum of the dressing-room that comes high, but is so useful the year round it is one of the best of tokens for the season.

Besides the costlier gifts, there are any number of comparatively inexpensive trinkets that answer for German favors, among them being many times “twa red cheekit apples” made in natural hues of silk and crepe paper, and also some trick apples that open to disclose bonbons.

The fad of ever hostess is to have unique favors and this presupposes a specially designed supply. For a house party in the Berkshires there are being made some witch caps and brooms, and for the man some fantastic “jumpers,” all of which are to be donned just before midnight in which to work some spells that are to take place in a huge new barn on the estate.

In the Halloween supper that is to follow, the place of honor is to be given to a dish of “butter’d so’ns, wi’ fragrant lunt,” prepared by the Scotch recipe, sowens with butter in place of milk, forming the chief article of diet on a properly observed Halloween.

Uniqueness rules. It also costs. The novelties of the season are largely prepared to fill private orders, but the dealers report a growing demand for trinkets symbolizing special fetes and for this general trade that has not arrived at the munificence of having special designs made to their order, nothing is in greater demand than the Brownies, who in their several “Shapes upon their several pins will go off careenin’ fu’ blythe that night.”

Dinah Sturgis.

The Salt Lake [UT] Herald 28 October 1894: p. 13

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: So amusing to see the upper-classes trying to ape their inferiors by playing the games of the “peasantry,” and by giving folklore-themed favours at their cotillions.

A traditional Hallowe’en ritual is to name nuts for various lovers then put them on a grate in the fire. If a nut burns nicely, that love is true. If it pops, the lover will prove false. Maidens gazing in mirrors were said to see the face of their future husband on All Souls Eve. One wonders if the mirror described above would produce a single loving apparition in triplicate or if the vision would give a selection of three different potential husbands? “Sowens” is a kind of sour oat porridge. “fragrant lunt” refers to steam rising from the dish. “Pulling the kale” was yet another marriage divination ritual where the length and straightness of the stalk indicated one’s future spouse. See this instructive article for more detail and much Scots dialect.

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.


The Moon Party, a Halloween Entertainment: 1914

Selene Victorian fancy dress.

Selene Victorian fancy dress.

“Moon Party” Makes Novel Halloween Entertainment.

One of the most pleasant social affairs is a moon party. This is the sort of entertainment to give on Halloween (or Thanksgiving) when the harvest moon is in evidence.

Those who are willing to go to some trouble in preparation for the function will find in a moon party something out of the ordinary.

For invitations use colored cards with silver or white moons ferescent or full) on them. Write on the cards the following or some other verse:

Dear friends, this greeting brings to you

An invitation hearty

To join with us on Halloween

A merry moonlight party.

Moons of every description are to be used in decorating—full, crescent, de-crescent, half and gibbous. These may be made of silver or white paper. They may hang from ribbons or cords and may be festooned all about.

The receiving party may be composed of mythological characters associated with the moon.

The first of these may be the “moon maker” (Segende Nah), who cause the moon to issue from a deep well so brilliant that the real moon was concealed by it. His dark blue robe should be covered with bright red moons and he should carry a wand.

Another may represent “Phoebe,” (the moon as the sister of the sun) arrayed in silver and white.

A third may be “Astarte” (the crescent moon), the moon with the crescent horns; and a fourth, “Ashtoreth” (the Phoenician goddess moon), sometimes called the “queen of heaven” (Jeremiah VII: 18).

“Selene” (the moon goddess), may be represented with wings on her shoulders and a scepter in her hands.

“Cynthia” should be included as the moon in the open heaven who “hunts the clouds.”

And from embattled clouds emerging slow

Cynthia came riding on her silver car.

The lighting for the room should simulate moonlight. Vines and branches should be so hung as to throw their shadows on floor and walls.

As the people arrive they are given each a numbered crescent shaped souvenir bearing an appropriate quotation. Those holding the same number are partners in the game of “moon raking.”

“This game it should be explained to those taking part, gets its name from the legend of the farmer who once took a rake to rake the moon from the river under the delusion that it was a cream cheese.

The “moon rakers’ are attached to each other by pairs (by means of a white tape half a yard long. They are instructed to go and rake for the moons (round, white candy tablets), which have been hidden among which is a green cheese (cloth) moon.

The finder is awarded a tiny moonstone.

The fact that the moon rakers are bound together makes it difficult for them to search and adds to the liveliness of the game.

Another interesting game is that of the “man in the moon.” A big, white moon with a man’s face on it is outlined on a dark curtain. Each player essays in turn to pin the eye nearest the place intended for, a small favor being presented to the one who succeeds.

“Jumping over the moon” is another good moon party game. A moon is suspended from a rod held at a certain height and the player who jumps clear over it at the greatest height is the winner.

Cheese sandwiches, crescent in shape are appropriate for refreshments, with moon shaped or star shaped cookies and wafer disks.

J.A. Stewart.

672 S 51st  st. Philadelphia. Pa.

Plain Dealer [Cleveland, OH] 18 October 1914: p. 11

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: We have Cynthia, but where is the goddess Diana, she of the crescent- moon crown?  It is not as if there is not admirable precedent for the goddess’s use as a fancy-dress character by the highest in the land:  the Empress of the French was said (in this caustic article) to be appearing at a fancy-dress ball in the character of the bare-limbed goddess.


The Empress of the French expected to give a grand fancy ball at her mother’s, the Countess de Montijo’s house, on Friday last, April 27. An exchange brought over by one of the recent steamers, says:

Eugenie, it is announced, will appear as the Goddess of Diana, equipped for the chase, and her dress will be composed of a short skirt of tulle, and of a body of flesh-colored silk, liberally embroidered with diamonds.

A large diamond crescent, and two stars to match, will sparkle on the forehead of the Goddess; the feathers of her arrows will be bedropped with diamonds, as a thread of gossamer with dew, and the pretty little pink boots, that are to give a finish to the costume, will likewise be adorned with precious gems set in anklets of gold. The jewels, some of which, it is said, will be wrenched form the crown, are more important to the costume than at first sight might be imagined. The dress of the Goddess Diana, consisting merely of a short tunic, and what are technically termed “fleshings,” would scarcely be becoming to a lady of high degree, though it might be exceedingly effective on the stage. But add a circle of diamonds to the scanty habiliments, and the standard of propriety is changed at once. Diana’s silver bow may not command much respect; even Diana’s real moon, inasmuch as it costs nothing, may be unheeded; but a Diana, with a crescent of diamonds—diamonds on her boots, diamonds on her arrows—is admissible into the most rigid circles.

Alexandria [VA] Gazette 5 May 1860: p. 2

The Empress Eugenie was widely regarded as a low-ranking and unsuitable match for the Emperor Napoleon III, an amusing attitude, considering the antecedents of that upstart Bonaparte. The Empress did give a series of extravagant fancy-dress balls in 1860 and called upon her favourite couturier, Charles Frederick Worth for imaginative costumes for her and her guests.  Here is a design for “Diana:”

From the Victoria & Albert collections

From the Victoria & Albert collections

However, the acerbic tone and the nonsense about wrenching jewels from the Crown make one suspect that this article was a piece of anti-Eugenie propaganda rather than an actual account of a fancy-dress costume.

The “moon-maker” was an 8th-century Arabian magician, also known as Hakim Ben-Hashem. He wore a veil to conceal the brilliance of his eyes, the result of causing a moon to issue from a well and remain visible for a week.

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.