Wednesday, October 31, 1866
It was the year after the end of the American Civil War. Andrew Johnson was president. New York City was a growing metropolis, flush with Irish immigrants who brought their All Hallows Eve customs with them.
Over the next decades, the gourd-carving, ghost-fleeing, Catholic All Hallows Eve customs of these immigrants would merge with American harvest festivals and religious beliefs (and native plants like the pumpkin) to create the modern Halloween celebration.
In Trinity's rectory at 50 Varick Street, The Rev. Morgan Dix, 39 years old, picked up his pen and recorded his impression of these early American Halloween celebrations:
"This was All Hallows Eve, and several young people came to make merry with the kitchen department. I spent a tolerably quick evening, and saw no ghosts whatsoever."
The following year he again mentions All Hallows Eve at the rectory:
Thursday, October 31, 1867
"…a delightful day, mild and pleasant again…spent a quiet and uneventful evening considering what a weird and spectral night it was. Clara came to attend upon Hallow-Eve festivities at my house, and spent some time in the library before going down the the lower hall to the apples and nuts."
One wonders what Dix would make of Trinity's modern Halloween is Happening celebration. Then again, he may be watching on this most spectral of nights.
Author: Trinity Wall Street Communications
Created: March 18, 2009
Trinity Wall Street has played a pivotal role in the religious and civic life of the city and nation since its founding in 1697. This blog will answer readers’ questions and provide a glimpse into the fascinating and provocative history of the parish.