The Bizarre Way Hazelnuts Were Once Used To Find A Spouse On Halloween

If you're looking for someone to fill the role of your couple's Halloween costume this year, you can always hop on Tinder or Hinge to find a date, and if you're lucky, that particular someone could wind up being the other half of your annual dress-up routine for the rest of your life. However, once upon a time, people didn't have dating apps at their disposal as they searched far and wide for their soulmates. They therefore had to resort to other means of courtship, and viewed through the lens of the 21st century, some were a little more bizarre than others. 

According to Strange Ago, one particular Halloween tradition existed many years ago and involved the burning of hazelnuts. It was a simple procedure that not only produced an earthy, rustic aroma that probably paired well with any seasonal decorations adorning one's homestead, but was also intended to direct the practitioner toward her intended lover. 

I heart hazelnuts

When you think of love, what comes to mind? Heartfelt letters, doves, diamond rings, white gowns, tender words of unwavering devotion ... probably not hazelnuts, though. However, Woman's Day reports that once upon a time, Scottish women sought out a handful of hazelnuts if they were fed up with all the waiting games and wanted a real paramour in their life. 

According to Strange Ago, author William S. Walsh wrote in his book "Curiosities of Popular Customs and of Rites, Ceremonies, Observances, and Miscellaneous Antiquities" (1897) that after tossing two hazelnuts into a mass of burning embers, a woman "secretly gives a lover's name to each. If one of the nuts bursts, then that lover is unfaithful; but if it burns with a steady glow until it becomes ashes, she knows that her lover's faith is true." So, in a sense, people did in fact use "tinder" back in the old days, though it was a bit more literal in that particular context (via Strange Ago). 

Other strange Halloween love customs

If the hazelnut trick didn't work, maidens of old luckily had other methods to resort to if they were hungry for the passion of a devout lover. Halloween FM reports that around the same time in history, women would hang wet sheets before a blazing fire on Halloween night and search for the countenance of their future husband in the saturated cloth. A more potentially hazardous practice involved holding a mirror up to one's face while walking backwards down a staircase at midnight on October 31. If done correctly, the face of the woman's lover would appear in the glass, though the risk of falling down a staircase backwards seems a high price to pay.

You've likely heard of the whole "engagement ring in the champagne glass" gimmick, but apparently, women in Ireland during the 18th century would mix a ring into a pot of mashed potatoes instead. It was said that the hungry man who found it while he ate would immediately become love-struck — without breaking a tooth in the process, we hope (per Halloween FM).