Thursday, October 17, 2013

Trick or Treat! Smell My Feet!

Trick or Treat!
Smell my feet!
Give me something good to eat!

It's one of the oldest and most sacred Halloween traditions.  As a kid, you put on your best costume, grab the biggest pillow case you can find, and head door to door asking for candy.  When I was kid, Halloween was my favorite time of year because of this grand tradition.  I loved dressing up and getting a huge bag of candy.  I always thought this was a bizarre tradition, though, even when I was little.  This is basically the only time of year where our parents allow, and even encourage, us to take candy from strangers.  Where did this all start?  Like many things, apparently we have Europe to thank for this.

"If this lady gives us pennies again this year, I'm egging her front yard."

In the middle ages on a day called Hallowmas (November 1st), poor people would go door-to-door.  They wouldn't just demand candy, though.  They participated in a practice called Souling, praying for the dead in front of each house.  In return, the people within the house would offer them cakes.  

Around the late 1800s, a similar practice appeared in Scotland.  This time around, it was called Guising.  People would dress up in a masquerade and go from house to house getting fruit, cakes, and money.  It is believed that the people of Scotland, in doing this, were following similar traditions set by the Celtics many years earlier.  The Celtics would dress as demons and evil spirits on Hallowe'en night in order to placate monsters they believed walked among them.

Trick-or-treating as we know it today didn't really start until around the 1950s in the US.  From my research, I can't really figure out why it started.  But it has been a staple of the Halloween holiday ever since.  

When I was younger, trick or treating was my favorite thing to do.  I loved it even above getting presents on Christmas.  There was just something immensely satisfying about getting dressed up in a cool or scary costume and getting rewarded for it.  Costumes were my absolute favorite part of it, though.  I loved dressing up as something freaky and completely transforming myself.  

I remember there was a group of years where I wanted to become the classic monsters.  The first year, I painted my face white, put fake fangs in my mouth, wore a cape and became Dracula.  The next year, I wore a simple suit with a wolfy mask and was the Wolf Man.  The third year was a bit more complicated.  Using a mixture of make up and rubber facial parts, I became Frankenstein's Monster.  The last time I remember trick or treating, I was simply in a hockey mask and a jump suit.  I'll let you guess who that was on your own.

I have many more memories of trick or treating, but I believe I'll save them for another article.  For now, I would love to hear from you out there!  What are some of your favorite costumes you wore as a kid?  Feel free to share them in the comments!  Now, I'm going to go buy the biggest bag of candy I can find.

1 comment:

  1. When I was in college, I went to one party as a pile of laundry. I got all the really beat up (but clean!) clothing I had, and used carefully hidden safety pins to attach it to another old shirt and pair of pants...