I was tempted to make a 'tinder' joke, considering the role of hot tallow described below, but will instead simply offer up today this pair of methods of prognostication a future husband, used by the young women of Marblehead.

"[I]n Marblehead, where on the nights when a new moon was to appear, the unmarried young women would congregate at some houses in the neighborhood for the purpose of having a peep into futurity; and after hanging a huge pot of tallow on the crane over the blazing logs, would then drop, one by one, iron hob nails into the boiling fat, in the firm belief that the young man who should come in while this charm was working would inevitably be the future husband of the fair one who dropped the nails

At other times the young woman who had a longing to pry into the unknown would go to an upper window of the house, and when no one saw her would throw a ball of yarn into the street in the belief that the lucky youth who first picked it up was the man she would marry."

Source - https://books.google.com/books?id=rD7QAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

(There are a plethora of rituals from this era used by young women to predict the identity of their future husbands - 'scissors and sieve', tossed apple peels, and bibliomancy were all discussed in our article on Colonial folk magic in issue #3.  While this might seem odd to contemporary readers, we must recall the critical importance of this selection (often not made by the women themselves) in determining their futures.  Women in Colonial America, while not wholly property of men, were still profoundly dependent on first their fathers and then later their husbands for their prosperity and social status, not to mention their health and well-being. There was perhaps no moment in a Colonial woman's life that had a greater impact on her future as her marriage - hence the the popularity of any method offering young women some insight into this event.)
Shared publiclyView activity