Throwback Thursdays – Bobbing for Apples

Will apple bobbing be a Halloween tradition that survives the apocalypse?

Past:

Apple bobbing dates back to antiquity and is commonly associated with the Celtic festival Samhain, where apples were a sign of abundance, fertility, and good harvest. The game goes like this, several apples are placed into a tub filled with water, then, children or adults, with hands bound behind their backs, try to catch apples with their teeth. There were several variations of the game, including one called Snap Apple where the apple hangs from a string tied to the ceiling. Eventually, apple bobbing became a fun courting act between young ladies and potential suitors, particularly in regions of the United Kingdom. A young lady would drop her apple, representing the man she most desired, into a barrel and attempt to bite the apple by dunking her head into or near the water. Catching the apple in one try meant the romance was destined to succeed, while more than three tries meant the relationship was doomed. Hard to believe that’s how many a marriage started before the 1900s, but there you have it. Young women even put their apples under their pillows the night before for extra luck.

Halloween Postcard circa 1912

Present:

Health and safety concerns pretty much keep bobbing for apples a thing in the past. The fear of catching Covid, Influenza, or some other illness from contaminated water is high and parents of small children especially fear drowning, not to mention the high possibility of eye injuries from accidental scratches or infections. This game is more dangerous nowadays than it ever was in the past. Most instances of apple bobbing events happen during private parties or fall festivals and more often than not, involve schoolchildren. No young lads want to mess up their coiffeurs and any ladies looking for a soulmate will find that match.com is a far easier and safer way to attract a good man.

Photo by Polly Castor

Future:

Whether due to the radioactive contamination from the fallout of a nuclear war or worldwide freshwater shortages due to climate change, it’s hard to imagine the earth will be fertile enough in the future to grow orchards full of apple trees needed for apple bobbing. Soil and water would both be irradiated in the event of a nuclear explosion, so, growing any crops at all will be a challenge. Given the high chance of scarcity of food during the apocalypse, I don’t anticipate apple bobbing to be a Halloween tradition that survives. Still, only one apple is truly needed to play, so, all hope is not completely lost. Let me know your thoughts in the comments or hit me up on social media.

Happy Halloween!

Barren apple tree