History Of Trick or Treat
The Druids believed that the spirits of the dead returned to the
world of the living each year on the eve of November 1.Manyof the
spirits were mischievous in nature, while some had evil streaks, and
were delighted to harm humans. The white robe priests of the rights
of Samhain wore masks upon their faces to disguise themselves as
spirits. This would trick the walking dead into thinking they were
one of them, and not flesh and bone mortals. Safely camouflaged the
priests would gather without being victims of ghosts, fairies,, or
demonic supernatural beings. The general population would wear
clothes of the opposite gender to disguise themselves of being
recognized by their ancestors. This confusion would prevent
relatives from taking them back into the Other world at the end of
In the “Burning Times” the dark period of history when people were
executed throughout most of Europe for practicing Witchcraft.
Practitioners of the old religion started to wear dark colored robes
and masks. They gathered in forests and fields on Halloween night to
celebrate the Sabbat, work powerful magickal spells and healing
charms, and perform divinations. Their attire concealed their
identities from those who might turn them in. The wearing of robes
and masks that were means of protection for practitioners in the
seventieth and eighteenth century, became a custom of wearing masks
and costumes on Halloween and parading from house to house. This
became as “guising,”
and it is believed to be originated from Scotland. They dressed and
painted to look like ghosts, ghouls, and other supernatural
creatures. The guisers would parade from house to house, filling the
night with song and dance to intimidate malicious spirits and keep
all evil at bay.
In Ireland ,the jack-o‘-lanterns gave the soft glow of light, which
lit the way for those who went door to door. They demanded tribute
for the old Pagan God Muck Olla. Guisers also collected special
round loves known as “soul cakes” and other foods for the dead. It
is believed that the charitable act of donating food or money to all
beggars who showed up at the front door on Halloween night ensured
one’s prosperity or offered protection against a wide range of
In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the customs
of guising were no more than whimsical masquerades for children. On
Halloween they went door to door begging for apples and nuts and
singing traditional Halloween folk songs, like this one from the
English county of Shropshire:
Soul! Soul! A soul-cake!
I pray, good missis, a soul-cake!
An apple or pear, a plum or a cherry,
Any good thing to make us merry,
One for Peter, two for Paul,
Three for Him who made us all.
Up with the kettle, and down with the pan,
Give us good alms, and we’ll be gone.
If the guisers were refused a “treat” they would retaliate with a
prank of some sort known as a “trick,” hence the term “trick or
treat.” Traditional tricks in England were, stopping up chimneys
with pieces of turf, blowing smoke through keyholes, and smashing
glass bottles against walls to simulate the sound of windows
smashing. In the nineteenth century guising was brought across the
Atlantic Ocean to the New World, the United states by the
immigrants, and eventually evolved to what Halloween is known today.
Other names by which Halloween has, and is still, known by include
Calangaeaf, Day of the Dead, Feast of Spirits, Festival of the Dead,
Martinmas, November Eve, Old Hallowmas, Samana, Samonios, Santos,
Third Harvest, Third Festival of Harvest, Vigil of Saman, and Vigil
of Todos. Modern day Pagans of Wicca prefer their Halloween sabbat
by its original Celtic Name of Samhaim. There are also certain
traditions in the Craft that use the name, Shadowfest, or simply
October 31 as the Witches ‘New Year’s Eve.