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Belsnickeling parties, Christmas, dandelions, pink eye, wedding ring, Easton Daily Express, Northampton County
Handwritten notes written by Alfred L. Shoemaker, copied from sources The Portland Press: A Scribbler's Notebook and The Easton Daily Express (December 26, 1866). Within, details pertaining to the Christmas tradition of Belsnickeling are noted as well as superstitions.
Charlotte B. Mortimer author of Morton Montague
The Portland Press - “ A Scribbler’s Notebook” by Ruth Henry
“Smoke Out the Teacher”
Superstitions p. 130 When one of the children had a “pink” eye a neighbor said that if mother washed her wedding ring in snow and rubbed the ring over the same eye, it would get better.
We loved the golden dandelions dotting the fields in the spring and once, while in the first grade, we gathered a bunch for the teacher. But soon we threw them away, mortified, for taunting children called the dandelion by a name unprintable and loudly predicted we would wet the bed that night if we didn’t first wet our panties in school.”
p.116 The other day a couple of our Mt. Bethel residents told of going out with Belsnickeling parties during Christmas week in 1908. One party travelled from East Bangor; another group started at the hill on Potomac street in Mt. Bethel. The men and boys were dressed in women’s clothes; the girls were dressed as men. Over their heads they pulled long black stockings with holes cut for eyes, and their cheeks were stuffed out with cotton.
They were a merry group and thought nothing of walking through the snow for miles, stopping at house after house, where folks treated them to apples and cider and tried to guess their sex.
A host would sometimes say: “Here, catch this apple and I’ll tell whether you’re a man or woman.”
There were no women athletes in those days and the awkward sprawling position a woman assumed when catching the apple usually betrayed her sex.
Easton Daily Express Dec 26, 1866: “Men and boys dressed in most fantastic garbs paraded the streets in numbers and caused considerable merriment to those who were fortunate enough to witness their amusing costumes and fantastic tricks.
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Shoemaker, Alfred L., "Notes From The Portland Press: A Scribbler's Notebook and The Easton Daily Express" (1950). Alfred L. Shoemaker Folk Cultural Documents. 208.
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