The start of the new year signals a new batch of books that have entered the public domain. One such book is “World’s Best Book of games and parties” from 1926.
How did people in 1926 throw the world’s best party?
One of my favorite sections of this book explains how to throw a New Year’s party: “A Phantom Party for New Year’s Eve.”
These New Year’s party ideas involve ghosts. Apparently this seems to be a regular thing back in 1926. Funny how we have gotten away from the ghost theme for New Years. The opening paragraph under “STUNTS” says:
New Year’s Eve is such a wild time, especially when there are ghostly costumes worn, that organized games are hard to manage.
It seems the author assumes that ghostly costumes are normally worn to a New Year Eve’s party.
Were ghosts a regular part of New Year’s?
New Years traditions across the world involve scaring off ghosts. Almanac.com reports:
- In Thailand, it was once tradition to fire guns to frighten off demons.
- In China, firecrackers routed the forces of darkness.
- In Denmark, they throw plates and glasses against each others’ front doors to banish bad spirits.
But these traditions involve scaring evil spirits away. Not about making yourself into a ghost and celebrating the darkness.
I couldn’t find any traditions about people dressing up as ghosts for New Year’s. I googled:
- New Years Eve party with ghost costumes
- New Year’s Eve ghosts 1920s
Nothing came up.
Maybe this idea of dressing up as ghosts was intended to scare away ghosts? However, if you are dressed up as a ghost, wouldn’t you be inviting ghosts to come to your party?
Most likely I think this ghost costume idea is related to the old year transitioning into the new year. The current year depicted as an old man, whereas the new year is a baby. As the baby arrives, the old man dies. Maybe people in these 1926 parties are re-enacting the death of the old year. They might be saying, “Yah! Death! Death! Let’s dress up as death!” (Weird if you ask me. But people have their own things they like).
Celebrating Life instead of Death
Makes you wonder if anyone dressed up as babies for the new year. I’d much rather be focusing my words on, “Yah! Life! Life!” And wear flower shirts to celebrate life and growth. Hawaiian shirts would be nice.
Hmmm, now I wish I wore a Hawaiian shirt on New Years. Actually, I need to get a Hawaiian flower shirt so I can do this every year.
I found this 1926 party book through James Pinnick flipping this article, “Welcoming Recorded Music to the Public Domain – Internet Archive Blogs“
Here are the rest of the pages about New Year’s Eve parties from“World’s Best Book of games and parties”