It’s that time of year again – apple harvest time, especially in nearby Julian. Many of us are eagerly looking forward to heading that way for a big slice of apple pie or a glass of refreshing cider. Our Victorian forefathers were also fans of this delicious fruit, even serving it as a dessert course at fancy meals. They simply sliced it in quarters – peeled or not – and presented it as a treat to each guest.
They also employed the fruit in other ways, even with a romantic twist. It was said that the fruit has always been associated with the goddess of love. Many pictures exist of young ladies looking into a mirror while holding an apple, supposedly hoping to catch a glimpse of her future love. It was even more propitious if this occurred on Halloween!
Bobbing for apples was another seasonal opportunity for romance. Each male guest at a party was given an apple to place in a tub of water. The female guests were then allowed to “bob” for the apple of the object of their desire. The more times it took to secure the appropriate apple, the less likely the pair would end up together. Very forward for young Victorian women!
Another variation of the bobbing game involved a competition to capture an apple first. The winner was then presumed to be the first to marry . Sometimes, though, the bobbing was just for fun!
Even apple peels were put to use – waste not, want not is an old Victorian saying. Once the apple was peeled, a long section was twirled around a young woman’s head three times and then tossed over her shoulder. As it landed, it was supposed to reveal the initial of the first name of the apple thrower’s future spouse. Pretty complicated!
As for the seeds – after assigning each seed with the name of a lady’s crush, she was supposed to place them on her forehead. The seed that remains in place the longest would indicate the most successful suitor.
If a seed was squeezed between two fingers, when it escaped it it would indicate the direction from which a lover would arrive. If two seeds are thrown into a fire and they went in different directions, no love match was predicted.
Lastly – there was even a variation of the old snapdragon game – snap apple, of course. In this version, an apple is hung from a rope connected to one end of a stick. On the other end of the stick was a lit candle. As the stick swung from side to side, one would attempt to bite the apple. If they were unsuccessful, they might end up with a face full of wax. As might be expected, this game did not last too long!
For the less adventuresome, there are always candied apples, caramel apples and decorated apples to present to the apple of your eye!