Tuesday, October 1, 2019

IV- Trick or Treating

By the ninth century, Christinanity, had spread into Celtic lands. Pagan rites were incorporated into Christian celebrations. In time, they were eliminated. In 1000 A.D. the church officially designated November 2 as All Souls’ Day. It was to be a time for honoring the dead. The new celebrations reflected those 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.

Image result for images of early soulers on halloween

In Scotland and Ireland, young people took part in a tradition called ‘Guising’, dressing up in costumes 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.

Image result for images vintage halloween trick or treaters

The word 'Halloween' was first popularized in 1795 in a poem of the same name by the Scottish poet Robert Burns.

The origination of 'treats' may go back to the Celt's fear of these evil spirits entering their homes. Hoping to appease them, they would place bowls of food outside their homes. For the good spirits of their departed loved ones, they would leave lit candles on the paths to help them find their way home. To make them feel welcome, they set places at the table for the departed loved ones.

The British Halloween celebration has roots back to Guy Fawke's day which is 
". . . the commemoration of "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. Catesby and the handful of other plotters rented a cellar that extended under the House of Lords building, and Fawkes planted the gunpowder there. However, as the November 5 opening meeting of Parliament approached, Lord Monteagle (1575-1622), the brother-in-law of one of the conspirators, received an anonymous letter warning him not to attend Parliament on November 5. Monteagle alerted the government, and hours before the attack was to have taken place Fawkes and the explosives were found. By torturing Fawkes, King James’ government learned the identities of his co-conspirators. During the next few weeks, English authorities killed or captured all the plotters and put the survivors on trial. Fawkes and the other surviving chief conspirators were sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered in London. Moments before the start of his execution, on January 31, 1606, Fawkes jumped from a ladder while climbing to the gallows, breaking his neck and dying

Following the failed Gunpowder Plot, new laws were instituted in England that eliminated the right of Catholics to vote, among other repressive restrictions."
In 1606, shortly after Fawke's execution, bonfires (called Bone Fires) were lit to burn effigies (or the bones) of the Pope. Later in 1606, Parliament established November 5 as a day of public thanksgiving. Guy Fawkes Night (also referred to as Guy Fawkes Day and Bonfire Night) became a holiday in Great Britain that is currently celebrated each year November 5. By the 1800's, for Guy Fawke's night, children would wear masks, and carry effigies, and ask for pennies. 
British immigrants brought this tradition to the American Colonies. At the same time, immigrants from Ireland and Scotland brought their traditions of souling and guising. By the early 1900’s, The 2 traditions had started to meld together into one.

Sugar rations during World War II, put  a damper on ‘trick or treating’. However in the post war years, Halloween became a major holiday, with the new popularity of All Hallows’ Eve, (aka Halloween or Guy Fawkes Night) and the end of rations. If fact the production of candy for Halloween soon became a $6 billion dollar industry. 

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