Christmas Eve Service at the Lutheran Church

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, December 24, 1913:  Went to Watsontown this morning with Pa on the big wagon. This trip finished my Xmas shopping.

Ruth and I went up to McEwensville this evening to attend the Christmas services in the Lutheran Church. Was pretty dark coming home. Discovered on the way that I had left my umbrella behind me. Hope I get it again.

Messiah Lutheran Church, McEwensville

Messiah Lutheran Church, McEwensville

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma generally attended the Baptist Church, but Messiah Lutheran Church in McEwensville apparently held a Christmas Eve service each year that community members attended. Grandma also attended the Christmas Eve services at the Lutheran Church in 1911.

(An aside: Grandma’s future husband, Raymond Swartz, attended Messiah Lutheran Church—though he and Grandma weren’t yet an item when this diary entry was written.)

Christmas is a time for memories. I’m going to reprint part of the post that I did on Christmas Eve, 2011 below. It’s equally relevant this year, and I thought that you might enjoy reading (or rereading) it.


When I was a child I regularly went to candlelight services at Messiah Lutheran Church  — the same church Grandma attended on Christmas Eve a hundred years ago.  I wonder if the services have changed much over the years.

In the middle part of the last century, I remember singing wonderful old-time carols at the candlelight service —We Three Kings, Joy to the World, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, O Little Town of Bethlehem, O Come All Ye Faithful, Hark the Herald Angels,  . .. . ..

We’d end with Silent Night after all of the lights had been extinguished except for the candles we were lighting.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

I don’t know why, but I have strong memories of one year when an elderly woman didn’t extinguish her candle at the end of the service, and took the flickering light out into the cold night.

I remember asking my mother why the woman didn’t follow the directions—and my mother said that the old lady was remembering Christmas’s from long ago and that we should let her be.  I looked at the woman and could see how happy she looked as her face was illuminated by the flickering light.

I hope that I have equally wonderful memories of Christamases past when I am her age.

Old-Fashioned Christmas Greenery Decorating Ideas

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, December 1, 1913:

The very last, December comes

That month that is held so dear

With a shout of mirth

We welcome the birth

For the month that dies the year.

It seems to me that old father time must be running a race with something or other, the days spin ‘round so swiftly.


Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Were the Muffly’s starting to decorate for Christmas as the days spun by? Here’s some ideas for using greenery that were in the December, 1913 issue of Ladies Home Journal.



1913-12-81.aYou might also enjoy several previous posts that showed hundred-year-old Christmas decorating ideas:

Christmas Tree Decorations a Hundred Years Ago

Christmas Table Decorations and Centerpieces a Hundred Years Ago

One Hundred-Year-Old December School Bulletin Board Ideas

Old-fashioned Mistletoe and Candy Kiss Decoration

Monthly Poem

Grandma begins each month with a poem.  For additional information about them see:

Monthly Poem in Diary

Halloween Parties a Hundred Years Ago

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Friday, October 31, 1913: At last this old house sees a party. It was fun to see the guests arrive. There were gowned in many crazy ways. One fellow wore a skirt with hoops and looked too silly for anything. We also had a clown, a ghost, and a witch. The rest were dressed in any old way. As for the false faces, they were about as ugly as could be. There were twenty-one in all and made quite a merry company.

As it was Halloween, one of the guests caught it. Someone unhitched his buggy and carted it away, but it was found at last.


Picture Source: Ladies Home Journal (October, 1913)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Boo! What a fun party!

Here’s the description of a Halloween party in the October, 1913 issue of McCall’s Magazine:

The house is dark as the guests arrive. A black-robed figure silently opens the door, and mysteriously points them up the staircase, illuminated by a single Jack-o’-Lantern, to a dark room above, where they may remove their wraps. A mysterious something, swathed in a sheet, assists them. . .

As they leave the room voices have dropped to whispers and timid ones stay close together. They follow a series of pointing hands, cut out of black paper, which are indicated by the yellow splotches of candles along the dark hall.

Finally, they come to a large room, dark save for one orange light, where an icy hand takes theirs and leads them to seats. The hand is a glove filled with ice, which the hostess extends. Before the silence becomes oppressive; light appears at the far end of the room behind a sheet. Then begins a shadow pantomime. The real figures are between the light and the sheet, so that the audience sees only their shadows thrown upon the latter.

The pantomime may be anything you choose: not more than four people should be in it, and they will have no end of fun, the week beforehand, working out any scheme they devise.

Some rehearsing will be necessary to regulate the lights, as their distance from the curtain determines whether the shadows will  be large or small. The last picture must show witches with capes and high-pointed caps, singing weird incantations over a caldron. They are still there when the sheet is drawn aside and the guests rush forward, to recognize in one of them their hostess. As the lights are raised, the tension breaks and the merriment runs high.



Halloween Place Cards

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, October 30, 1913: Everything is almost ready for the party and I am anticipating the fun we will have.

Halloween place card 2

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

I’m almost as excited as Grandma about the Halloween party she and her sister Ruth were planning.

Were there still a few final touches that needed to be completed? . . . like making place cards?

A hundred years ago, place cards were often made to ensure that just the right people sat next to each other.  The October, 1913 issue of Ladies Home Journal included several sample place cards.

Halloween place card 3

Halloween place card 1


Ice Cream Served in Orange Jack-o’-Lantern Shells

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, October 29, 1913: Ditto


Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma and her sister Ruth were getting ready for a Halloween party they are going to host.

What foods were they planning to serve their guests?

The October, 1913 issue of Ladies Home Journal had the following suggestion:

Serve ice cream in orange  Jack-o’-lantern shells.


Hundred-Year-Old Halloween Bogeyman Craft

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:

Tuesday, October 28, 1913:  Working away as usual.


Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Hmm. . . Grandma wasn’t exactly doing her usual work. She and her sister Ruth were preparing to host a Halloween party. The previous day they sent invitations to friends.

Were they making any Halloween decorations? . . . Maybe the carrot and apple head bogeyman shown in the October, 1913 issue of Ladies Home Journal?

Source: Ladies Home Journal (October, 1913)

Source: Ladies Home Journal (October, 1913)

I’m a bit foggy about why the magazine caption calls the bogeyman a candle holder since I don’t seen any candles in the picture.

The magazine didn’t provide directions for making the bogeyman, and instead said that if you wanted directions for making the “novelties” shown that you should send a stamped self-addressed envelope to the Entertainment Editor.

Here’s how I interpreted the picture when I made the bogeyman:

I bought some old-fashioned fat carrots (and some apples) at the farmer’s market.

I carved a jack-o-lantern face on the apple and then cut a round hole about 1-inch in diameter and 1-inch deep in the bottom of the apple.  I dipped the carved face in lemon juice so that it wouldn’t turn brown.

I peeled the carrot and cut the bottom off so that it would sit flat. I then cut away part of the top of the carrot to create narrower piece that could be inserted into the bottom of the apple.  I also cut notches on each side of the carrot for the twig arms.

I then assembled the bogeyman. The “buttons” on the front of the carrot are raisins that I attached using pins.

Hundred-Year-Old Halloween Party Invitiations

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, October 27, 1913:  At last and for the first time Ruth is going to pay back some of the entertaining she owes. She is going to give a Halloween Masquerade party. I suggested it over a month ago. I almost gave the thing up last week, but now the invitations are out and I’m fixing things up to beat the kill.


“Invitations written on post cards decorated with button-face freaks Iike those shown will be unique.”

Ladies Home Journal (October, 1913)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

What fun! Grandma and her sister Ruth were doing to have a Halloween party.

The October, 1913 issue of both Ladies Home Journal and McCall’s Magazine included directions for Halloween parties.  As Grandma and Ruth prepare for their party over the next few days, I’ll share what the magazines said.

Today, I’m sharing the instructions for making invitations. The direction in Ladies Home Journal are above. Here are the directions in McCalls:

Buy a ten-cent package of black-witch silhouettes, or cut them out yourself, and paste it in the lower corner of the invitation.  Across the top write the following:

Attend, attend, attend:

Lend an ear!

The witches are back,

They’re all come here!

They buried them deep,

But they won’t be still

On All Saints’ Eve,

When the winds blow chill.

They’ll meet you here.

At the hour of eight

Come, see queer things

And learn your fate.

On the reverse side of the card the address is written.

Incidentally, the poem from which the above verses are parodies is entitled “The Broomstick Train” by Oliver Wendell Holmes.

McCall’s Magazine (October, 1913)



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,064 other followers