Hallowe’en – Who’s got it right?

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This topic contains 7 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Jamie 5 years, 8 months ago.

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  • #15730


    I enjoyed the Hallowe'en special. Very thought provoking. It made me think about the traditions here in Scotland, where “Trick or Treat” is generally viewed as an unwelcome American corruption of our traditional way of celebrating Hallowe'en. In Scotland, the tradition of “guising” involves the dressing up but “guisers” are expected to perform some entertainment, e.g. telling jokes or singing songs to earn a treat – usually money or sweets (candy in USA). It is all very harmless and anyone turning up merely expecting a reward for a fancy costume will be disappointed. You need to earn your reward.So, the question is, have the Americans devised a distorted version by inventing Trick or Treat, which is akin to extortion with threats, or is the Scottish guising a watered-down version of a much older and more menacing tradition which has been faithfully maintained in the USA but which was deemed too anti-social by the Victorians (or perhaps earlier generations)? Discuss.

  • #18643


    As a fellow Scot, I can confirm that as kids we went out guising in fancy dress, bearing carved out neeps (turnips) with candles in them.  Pumpkins and asking “trick or treat?” didn't come into it.Monkey nuts did, however  :(

  • #18644


    Pumpkins are certainly an American addition.  But I would be interested in knowing exactly how the split happened between guising in Scotland and extortion (trick or treating) in the US.  I think you're probably on the right track with blaming it on the Victorians.  They have a well deserved reputation for putting a stop to a lot of fun public activities (and also being rather... erm... interesting in private), so it very well could have been them.  Though I can't say for sure because I didn't see anything that directly addressed the split and how it occurred.  But there were plenty of references to pranks occurring in Scotland while guising, particularly to the miserly members of society, so at the very least it has softened over the years.

  • #18645


    it occurred to me yesterday that Halloween really is the most pointless holiday. It's loosely cobbled together activities from a mess of old religions, named after a Christian festival that happens the next day. It really seems to be like neo-paganism in terms of building a desired modern end result on a whole collection of unrelated ancient practices.It does seem to have been a 20th century US excuse for a party (which I'm all for!). In my lifetime I've never seen the UK bother much with it (except as an excuse to go to the pub), am I being unfair? Has it evolved gradually ever since it's pagan origins, or did it just pop back into 18th/19th/20th century psyche?Not that there is anything wrong with another excuse for some fun, it just seems the one weakestly connected to anything. Still, when in north London - pop out for a spot of Trick or Knife Crime'ing...

  • #18646


    I think it would probably more along the lines of Knife or Treat… or maybe Knife and Treat.

  • #18647


    it occurred to me yesterday that Halloween really is the most pointless holiday.

    It might be pointless but as a kid it's the best holiday: you get to dress-up, run like a mad person in your neighborhood, you don't have the threat of Santa not coming if you're not good (like you do at Christmas) AND you get to eat all the candy your grubby little hands can carry.Now Easter traditions are a whole mishmash of conflicting traditions...

  • #18648


    I know that back in the 40's and 50's (my mother's childhood) there were many efforts to “calm down” teenage boys that would go around causing mischief and vandalizing neighborhoods, and so trick-or-treat was developed by city councils as a way to channel that roving energy. Having said that, I don't think that is where the tradition actually started, that may have just been the mass dispersion of it….kinda like Santa Claus was already a tradition, but Coca Cola did a masterful job mass-marketing as a particular image and actually changing our cultural perception.

  • #18649


    Yeah, it's a shame that more of Christmas isn't related specifically to Britain because that would be a fun one to tackle as well.  :)

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