By Brian Roulston
It that’s time of year again when you open your door and see all the cute youngsters dressed not only as the traditional demons, skeletons, pumpkins and goblins but maybe you’ll see Prince Harry or William, Princess Kate or Meghan. The Black Panther is always popular as well.
Hallowe’en has been a tradition since the middle ages originating from two different Celtic festivals, the Gaelic harvest festival of Samhain and Calan Gaeaf which marked the end of a Celtic new year on October 31. During early Hallowe’en celebrations people would dress up as evil spirits. It was believed as we passed from one year to the next the living and the dead would overlap leaving a sort of loophole for demons to wander the earth once again. By disguising oneself real demons would think you were one of them and move on.
In later years, children, adults and sometimes the poor would dress up as saints, angels or demons and go door to door begging for food or money in exchange for songs or prayers. It was like caroling during the Christmas season, only this would be called ‘souling’ or ‘mumming’ and the children would be called ‘soulers’ or ‘mummers’ as opposed to carolers.
Dressing up to go out was called ‘guising’; short for disguising. Later the Christian church would come to call this day, ‘All Hallows Eve’, ‘All Souls Day’ or ‘All Saints Day’.
The term “Trick-Or-Treat” was first shouted by excited little kids in the small town of Blackie, Alberta in 1927 according to an article from The Blackie Times. This would leave some of the older kids to have some serious fun if they didn’t get their treats. While no real damage was done, it did create some temper outbursts by some adults when they found their personal properties like wagon wheels, wagons, barrels and even gates would go missing or found hidden behind shrubbery, barns, roof tops or even in ponds.
For a while during the war years of WWII trick-or-treat was suspended due to sugar rations. Once trick-or-treating resumed it was full steam ahead for all those little witches, ghosts and goblins. Through the 20th century it has become one of the biggest commercial events of the year in Canada and the U.S.