The History of Halloween Trick or Treating part 1

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chick halloween 1, originally uploaded by Boju.

In my previous post on the History of Halloween I kind of glossed over a very important aspect of the Holiday – Trick-Or-Treating. Well, I woke up that morning and found my blog TPed, my computer screen soaped, and a smashed pumpkins in my comments. So I better clear things up or smell some feet.

There are 2 persistent myths about the origins of Trick or Treating. One is that it originated from the Druids going door to door for sacrafices (see image above) and the other is that it originated from Mischief Night in the UK. Like a good horror movie, both stories make great spooky stories to tell yourself on Halloween, but shouldn’t be taken seriously at all.

The above comic sets up the traditional Protestant Christian belief that Halloween is Satanic in origin and Druids or witches spent the night going door to door kidnapping virgins to be raped and sacrificed to Satan. Jack-O-lanterns were left with candles made of human flesh.

Note that I’m drawing a distinction between Protestant Christians and Catholic Christians. Part of the anti-Halloween vibe stems from the conflicts between Catholic Ireland which celebrated Samhain and Halloween and Protestant England which liked neither Catholics nor the Irish and celebrated Guy Fawkes day. Catholics tend to see the connection between All Souls Eve, The Day of the Dead, and Halloween without too much of a fuss.

As for Halloween, it was never celebrated by the druids. The druids of Ireland celebrated Samhain. When Ireland went Catholic they started celebrating Halloween. But names and religions aside, there is also no record of druids going door to door on Samhain or collecting sacrifices. The celebration of Samhain involved bonfires, fortune telling, dancing, apple bobbing, and a harvest feast. The druids were pagans and part of their culture had some witchcraft elements, but they did not worship Satan, who is part of the Christian cosmology. Jack-o-lanterns came with the switch to Halloween, but they were carved turnips, not pumpkins, and were lit with ordinary candles or coal.

According to legend, there was an Irishman named Jack, who was renown for his drunkenness and meanness. When it came time to die, the Devil came to collect his soul. Jack begged him for one last drink and tricked the Devil into turning into the coin to pay for it. Instead of going into a bar with his Satanic coin, Jack put it in his wallet, which bore a cross on it, trapping the Devil. Desperate, the Devil offered Jack one more year of life if he let him out.

One year latter the Devil came for Jack again. This time Jack begged the devil for one last apple, and tricked the Devil into climbing an apple tree. While the Devil was in the tree, Jack drew a cross on the tree, trapping the Devil. Furious, the Devil offered Jack 10 more year of life if he let him down.

When Jack finally died, Jesus wouldn’t let him into Heaven because he was such a mean, drunken man. So, at the gates of Hell, the Devil refused him as well, saying “I want nothing to do with you ever again!”
So Jack was forced to wander in limbo between earth and the afterlife. He asked the Devil how he could light his way, and the Devil gave him a coal of hellfire, which Jack put into a turnip and carved a face on. Since the Devil wanted nothing to do with Jack, the Jack-o-lantern was placed at doors and windows to welcome in lost souls and scare away devils and demons.

So the original Jack O Lantern did burn hellfire, but aside from that was pretty anti-satanic. Plus, the devil in that story is so stupid.

The Irish brought Halloween to America in the late 1800’s, but Trick-or-Treating didn’t appear until the 1930’s. Until then, the two were completely unrelated, and above all else, Halloween and Trick-or-Treating are not Satanic.

Part 2 to come.

Happy Haunting from the Dapper Cadaver