In Edgar Allen Poe's 1842 short story, "The Masque of the Red Death," Prince Prospero and his noble guests hide out from a plague known as the Red Death and hold a masquerade ball. Whether you want to emulate this story's connection to the plague or ironically celebrate the spread of a horrible disease, throw a Black Plague theme party.
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The Black Death killed more than 25 million people in the 1300s, one-quarter of Europe's population. Along with symptoms like fever and chills, victims of the bubonic plague experienced bloody phlegm and rose-coloured lesions. Guests can dress up as victims of the Black Death by applying Halloween make-up to emulate these horrific effects of the disease. To be more authentic, guests should dress in clothing evocative of the Middle Ages, such as tunics and cloaks. One guest might dress up as the plague-hag, an old woman in a black cloak, a physical manifestation of the plague in Northern Europe.
While you wouldn't want to go so far as to recreate the actual sanitary conditions of Medieval Europe at your party, you can decorate your venue to emulate this disastrous time period. Hang up banners and coats of arms around the house. Create dummies of dead bodies and place them in a wagon cart to emulate the "Bring out your dead" scene from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." It is widely believed that the plague was spread by rodents carrying the disease Yersinia pestis. Place rubber rats around the house to allude to the disease's origin.
Ring Around The Rosy
Encourage your guests to join in a rousing rendition of "Ring Around The Rosy," an old nursery rhyme, at your Black Plague theme party. According to some scholars, the words and movements of "Ring Around The Rosy" are about the Black Death. The lyrics are "Ring around the rosy / A pocketful of posies / Ashes, ashes / We all fall down." The "rosy" is said to allude to the rash that comes with the plague and a "pocketful of posies" was used as protection against the plague. Gather everyone in a circle to sing the words and fall down at the end.
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