Origin of Trick or Treating

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Origin of Trick or Treating

Postby Beantighe » Mon Nov 03, 2008 12:22 am

Kit, in response to your question on your blog about the origin of trick or treating, I think it originated in this country or the Celtic fringes with the Soul Cakers.

As far as I can remember, in centuries past on All Souls Day, groups of poor children used to go from house to house singing a special song, and in return for a cake ( a Soul Cake) would agree to pray for the souls of departed loved ones.

This tradition continued until the late 19th century, when it was carried out by apprentices, who got too boisterous and mischievous, and started playing tricks on anyone who would not give them a reward, so the practise was stopped. However, the custom was exported to America with the many immigrants, especially those from Ireland and Scotland, where it took off like the proverbial rocket. Eventually, inevitably, the custom came round full circle and was brought back to Britain, and now everyone here thinks it's an American import, but it did, in fact, originate here.

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Postby Beantighe » Mon Nov 03, 2008 12:25 am

PS - I agree with everything you said in your blog - you took the words out of my mouth!

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Postby kit » Mon Nov 03, 2008 1:13 am

Wow! :shock: :shock: :shock: That is so interesting, Beantighe! Thanks so much for that. I never expected a reply to my question so fast! And I wonder if the origins of that custom had its roots in a pagan custom? So many of the Christian ones do, don't they? How interesting. Wish I'd known this before writing Stonewylde - or maybe I can put something in for the future books. I just LOVE old customs and tracing their origins and evolution too.

Incidentally have just read your post about John being an ex-JH! How funny that I was only writing about them today on my blog! I'm normally a tolerant person regarding others' beliefs (live and let live, each to their own, etc) but that's one brand I just cannot stand. The whole dis-fellowship thing is absolutely barbaric, and totally against any religious teachings of tolerance, love, forgiveness etc. Makes my blood boil, especially when they stand all sanctimonious on your doorstep looking odd. Gives me the creeps! Send me a warty old witch any day!! (Joke joke everyone - honestly!) :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Postby Seawitch » Mon Nov 03, 2008 8:11 am

This is a copy of an article I found last year, and is similar to Beantighe's explanation. I printed it off and put a copy on each table at my Halloween do - for general information for my guests, but specifically for one or two who had made comments criticising me for "going to town for what was really an American thing"..........

What is Halloween?

Samhain (pronounced Sowain) is the old Celtic and witch name for the festival now called Halloween. It is also the Celtic New Year; a time for the old year to leave us and the New Year with all its fresh promise to be born. As the Goddess year starts, She is Virgin and Her colour is white. She covers the fields in her blanket of snow. As Summer dances in Her colour changes to red for the Mother and from Her fingertips She spreads the green of the fields. But from Lammas Her colour changes to the black of the Crone Goddess. The skulls and crone witch faces you see at this time of year are the reflection of this, the bonfires that light the sky at Guy Fawkes Night, are part of the old Samhain celebrations and there are arguments that this was the old date of Samhain.

Samhain is still celebrated in Ireland and Scotland although it died out in this country in the last century. The remains of the Samhain festival was adopted into the Christian Church as All Hallows in the year 835CE, where the poor would go from house to house asking for Soul Cakes in payment for praying for the soul of the families dear departed. By the late 19th and early 20th century this was taken over by ruffians who would throw clumps of earth and broken pots at the doors of houses that would not give them cake, and so Trick or Treat was born. All Hallows, sailed with the Irish emigrants to America and became part of their heritage, as well as our own. Halloween is more remembered there, than here, with journalists asking why we practise an American tradition! Even the pumpkin so readily available growing wild in America, would originally have been a Mangle Wersal as this is cattle food; it was easily available and cheap, would be cut and played with and still fed to the cattle after Samhain.

Beltane in May is the witch festival of life; Samhain is the festival of death. At this, the most important of the eight festivals of the witches' year, we remember those we have loved who have died and those killed in the persecutions in the name of witchcraft, whether they had actually been a follower of our religion or not. On the 31st Oct, “The veil between the worlds is thin,” allowing our loved ones back with us for a little while. Witches leave out a candle to guide loved ones home, a glass of wine to remind them that they are loved and remembered and a cake to remind them of the sweetness of life that we shared together. But this is not a sad time, for we have our loved ones back for a little and so love and laughter, song, dance and drama, are the order of the season, a time to celebrate.

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Postby kit » Mon Nov 03, 2008 9:37 am

Thanks for this, Seawitch! Really interesting. Next year at Samhain I shall have to see if I can get something in the press to further our cause. We need to fight this consumerism and bring back old customs for the right reasons, not let our beliefs get hijacked by commercialism.

I'm still wondering how the Soul Cakes thing maybe is a throw-back from older times. Although some things of course will never be known because they were never written down, and it's only customs that remain with people forgetting why their ancestors did these things in the first place.

Hmmnn - glad I haven't actually published Book Four as there's still time to include certain things .... :roll:
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Postby Greymalkin » Mon Nov 03, 2008 10:00 am

I made soul cakes for Samhain. And very nice they were too. :D
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Postby Milly » Mon Nov 03, 2008 11:32 am

Heres what it says in a book by Brian Day titled the celtic calendar. "Children went round with turnip lanterns and kail-runt torches made fromthick cabbage stems and were given apples and nuts. As the spirits abroad were feared for their mischief, children developed a tradition of emulating them by playing pranks. In western Isles boys went as guisers round the towns causing mischief such as by removing gates and overturning carts."

The bit about removing gates is interesting as you still get children singing "Trick or treat, trick or treat, give us somthing sweet to eat, or we'll nick your garden gate."
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Postby Milly » Mon Nov 03, 2008 11:50 am

In terms of the press thing samhain was talked about on the one show Thursday and friday last week. Saying about the new year aswell as other things. they also talked to a witch who explained why samhain is celebrated. You should still be able to watch the one show on bbc iplayer.

Also samhiain was also discussed on an episode of Stephan fry in America where he visited a witch who told us that it is a wiccan festival and the new year.

So there is some awareness out there and hopefully it will increase. Ive always thought that i should make a leaflet about Halloween and what it is actually about and give it to the children who come trick or treating, but i never have. I dont know if it would be suitable and what the parents response would be.
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Postby kit » Mon Nov 03, 2008 12:20 pm

Sounds like an excellent idea, Milly! As for being suitable - is what they're doing suitable? If parents don't like their children learning a bit about their culture and heritage, they shouldn't allow them to roam the streets in the dark upsetting grumpy old women like me and practising ancient customs of which they know nothing about! :x :x

As for the TV things - wish I'd seen them! I rarely watch TV but that's great if they're actually giving some air time to explain our beliefs. Brilliant! :D
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Postby solsticedreamer » Mon Nov 03, 2008 12:50 pm

kit i can see the emergance of the grumpy old woman corner in the jack :lol:

re the JW, there has been a few families in the village since i was at primary school and one of them girls was my best friend all through school...imagine my shock when i answered a knock at the door opne day only to see her and her mum trying to give me copies of watchtower...it really freaked me out and upset me, to this day i dont really know why
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Postby Daffodil » Mon Nov 03, 2008 3:29 pm

What a fascinating thread. I am really intrigued by it all. I mentioned in another post I made that I am at the beginning of my path (I wish I could think think of a better way to explain that?) so this is a great source of information and ideas for me to look into further.

Thank you everyone for sharing.
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Postby kit » Mon Nov 03, 2008 3:41 pm

I agree, Daffodil - I've learned so much from people on the forum - it's great! I love the way everyone shares their knowledge and thoughts.

Incidentally just had a bit of a ticking off on my blog about trick or treating - whoops! :oops: I've replied - hope it smooths down someone's feathers. I don't mind being a bit controversial but I don't want to offend anyone. Take a look, folks, and see what you think!
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Postby Ebany » Mon Nov 03, 2008 4:07 pm

I think you explained yourself very well Kit! I can imagine that someone might take offence at what you originally said, particularly when read in another context. But now you've explained, it all makes perfect sense! A village atmosphere is very different to a city one (Kit, how on earth did you ever put up with living there????).
Another thing - I don't know if the person concerned will read this, but I personally think that posting a criticism as "anonymous" is, to put it mildly, a cop out!!! If you are going to criticise, kindly have the courage of your convictions and provide a name!!! There are an awful lot of sites who automatically remove anything named anonymous or none or suchlike. As I said, that is MY opinion, please do not yell at anybody else for this!!!
oh, and mister or mrs anonymous, if you want to reply, kindly have the common decency to let others know which one of the many thousands of the family anonymous you are!!!!!
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Postby Brooke » Mon Nov 03, 2008 4:33 pm

This is all wonderful information! I am so glad I have joined this forum, not just bacuse I am a fan of Stonewylde and able to meet like minded friends, but it is a fantastic education for me. I would say I am fairly 'new' to being a pagan. Well, new to finding what I have always believed had a name and a deep history etc.

It is great to keep learning and adding to my 'pot' of knowledge.

I too hate commercialism, and in my opinion it is completely over the top! I also feel quite sad that most people don't know the true meaning of things and miss out on the magic and beauty.

Kit, love your blog!

xx
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Postby Daffodil » Mon Nov 03, 2008 5:14 pm

Ebany wrote:Another thing - I don't know if the person concerned will read this, but I personally think that posting a criticism as "anonymous" is, to put it mildly, a cop out!!! If you are going to criticise, kindly have the courage of your convictions and provide a name!!!


I could not agree more. :!:
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