Trick-or-treating—going from home to deal with in the hunt for sweet and different goodies—has been a well-liked Halloween custom in the US and different international locations for an estimated 100 years. However the origins of this community-based ritual, which costumed youngsters sometimes savor whereas their cavity-conscious mother and father grudgingly tag alongside, stay hazy. Attainable forerunners to modern-day trick-or-treating have been recognized in historical Celtic festivals, early Roman Catholic holidays, medieval practices and even British politics.
Historical Origins of Trick-or-Treating
Halloween has its roots within the historical, pre-Christian Celtic pageant of Samhain, which was celebrated on the night time of October 31. The Celts, who lived 2,000 years in the past within the space that’s now Eire, the UK and northern France, believed that the useless returned to earth on Samhain. Individuals would collect to gentle bonfires, supply sacrifices and pay homage to the deceased.
Throughout some Celtic celebrations of Samhain, villagers disguised themselves in costumes product of animal skins to drive away phantom guests; banquet tables had been ready and edible choices had been overlooked to placate unwelcome spirits. In later centuries, individuals started dressing as ghosts, demons and different malevolent creatures, performing antics in alternate for foods and drinks. This practice, often called mumming, dates again to the Center Ages and is regarded as an antecedent of trick-or-treating.
Early Christian and Medieval Roots of Trick-or-Treating
By the ninth century, Christianity had spread into Celtic lands, where it gradually blended with and supplanted older pagan rites. In 1000 A.D. the church designated November 2 as All Souls’ Day, a time for honoring the dead. Celebrations in England resembled Celtic commemorations of Samhain, complete with bonfires and masquerades. Poor people would visit the houses of wealthier families and receive pastries called soul cakes in exchange for a promise to pray for the souls of the homeowners’ dead relatives. Known as souling, the practice was later taken up by children, who would go from door to door asking for gifts such as food, money and ale.
In Scotland and Ireland, young people took part in a tradition called guising, dressing up in costume and accepting offerings from various households. Rather than pledging to pray for the dead, they would sing a song, recite a poem, tell a joke or perform another sort of “trick” before collecting their treat, which typically consisted of fruit, nuts or coins.
Guy Fawkes Night Celebrations
Still another potential trick-or-treating predecessor is the British custom for children to wear masks and carry effigies while begging for pennies on Guy Fawkes Night (also known as Bonfire Night), which commemorates the foiling of the so-called Gunpowder Plot in 1605. On November 5, 1606, Fawkes was executed for his role in the Catholic-led conspiracy to blow up England’s parliament building and remove King James I, a Protestant, from power. On the original Guy Fawkes Day, celebrated immediately after the famous plotter’s execution, communal bonfires, or “bone fires,” were lit to burn effigies and the symbolic “bones” of the Catholic pope. By the early 19th century, children bearing effigies of Fawkes were roaming the streets on the evening of November 5th, asking for “a penny for the Guy.”