31 October 2011

Trick Or Treating in England + Post Of The Month Club

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

In Ireland and Britain
during the Middle Ages on Hallowmas { November 1 }
 people went door-to-door in costume
receiving food in return for prayers for the dead

Fast-forward to 1895
for the first record of 'guising' in Scotland,
where children in disguise visited neighbors

performing a poem, song, or joke
to receive cake, fruit or money for their efforts
{ practiced later in Ireland too }

They carried lanterns made of scooped-out turnips
{ which was on the menu the following day }

First record of guising in North America was in

Some point before 1940, guising evolved to 'trick-or-treating'
on Halloween night in the western US and Canada

Although this annual US event of
asking for candy without a performance was stalled
by sugar rationing from 1942-1947 due to World War II,

trick-or-treating picked up steam
with the mass production of costumes
and attention given to it in children's magazines and radio shows

firmly establishing it in American pop culture by 1952

Carving pumpkins is an American tradition, as pumpkins are native to America
{ and bigger than turnips }

'Trick-or-treating' in England is viewed as an American export
and not necessarily a welcome one

In 2007 the BBC News wrote
the 'authentically ancient festival' of Halloween
'has been hijacked by trick or treating' 
and cited
the 1986 House of Lords debate about
 trick-or-treating being not a tradition, 
but American for begging
{ Yikes! }

Do you know how many houses I've seen decorated for Halloween in England this year?

I believe Halloween is more of a dark occasion here,
which makes the older generations nervous about bad behavior
in a society that closely guards its privacy

Last year I saw 'No Trick Or Treaters Here' fliers distributed for posting on doors
{ but none this year }

To indicate trick-or-treaters are welcome at a home,
a pumpkin or lit candle will be outside the front door

I have to say, just since last year there seems to be
increased lightening and acceptance of this event

evidenced by more Halloween displays in store windows
and a whole half-aisle dedicated to bagged candy, costumes, and knickknacks

Although most English parents never trick-or-treated as children,
it seems to be catching on and their children are enthusiastic about it

Children's costumes are scary or gory
- skeletons, witches, ghouls -

nothing 'cute' like a puppy dog
and no Disney characters

Many houses have spooky 'fog machines'
{ well, ventilation for boilers, actually }

And I noticed their trick-or-treat bags are quite small,
humbly not expecting much
{ some Americans bring pillowcases to fill in the US }

English neighbors typically give one piece of candy or one coin

This year a few trick-or-treaters rang our doorbell Saturday
and a few more will tonight { Monday }

I expect only one-eighth of the houses on our street will participate
when we trick-or-treat tonight with friends

American readers are probably thinking
how nice it must be to avoid the heavy commercialization of Halloween,

but with no Thanksgiving in England
you can bet Christmas paraphernalia has been for sale since the beginning of October!

Happy Halloween, y'all :)

- all photos by me -

Source: Wikipedia 1, 2, 3BBC, Rampants Scotland

Linking to: MissElaineOusLife 

* Postscript: I want to mention that in the US, this holiday has nothing to do with remembering loved ones that have passed. Halloween is almost synonymous with trick-or-treating, which commonly is a festive community affair of seeing your neighbors :) Teenagers will go with friends to haunted houses for a giggly scare; adults may attend parties. Halloween has a really fun vibe to it and generally loved by everyone. Unfortunately the innocent gaiety of trick-or-treating may not have been exported with this American tradition...


Welcome to October's Post Of The Month Club!
I am pleased as Halloween punch you are here :)

Time for our meet & greet

* Bloggers, link up your best post of the month *
And see, you've already done the work

* Share the love by dropping by a few other blogs and say 'hi',
if you can *

* Would you mind adding my button to your lovely sidebar or post
so more can join the fun next month? *


Yep, we'll do this the last day of each month

* Don't forget to become a follower here too *

Happy November blogging, you warm autumn ray of sunshine, you

P.S. You can click here to see my current giveaway :)

Linking to: Sweet Shot Tuesday



little macaroon. said...

This is such a funny post! Even though I went guising every year as a child (and we had to do a party-piece before we got our treat), the American Halloween celebrations still rather baffle me! It's so HUGE there, and I've heard tell of these pillowcases full of sweets from neighbours (aaaagh - their teeth!!!). However, tonight we're going to a real American party - I think we might be the only non-American guests - so I guess I'll get to see it first hand!

little macaroon. said...

Also, I wonder if maybe we don't go in for Halloween quite so much is because Guy Fawkes Night next week is so much fun! Bonfires, sparklers, fireworks, toffee apples, marshmallows, mittems, scarves and balaclavas - AMAZING! I'm missing home so much now that I talk about it!

Happy Homemaker UK said...

@ Little Macaroon - yes, this could be quite right. The light atmosphere of Guy Fawkes is similar to our Halloween in the US :)

MC said...

Here in Philippines, we have a very different 3way on "celebrating" Halloween (November 1 & 2) but nowadays, many Filipinos are kinda trying to do the same thing that the people from Western Countries do..

But one of our traditions when this day comes, all members of the family will go to the cemetery, we bring foods and we stay there until evening others often stay until morning.. We have fun there! We don't feel lonely, we have fun like the one of our family member didn't passed away.


Pet said...

Yes, Halloween is a very American thing, but it is a lot of fun for the children! Thanks for the detailed information about its origins. I'm surprised that Coca Cola didn't step somewhere around the way :-)
PS. Around last Christmas, at the Coca Cola museum in Atlanta, we were told that Santa wearing a red garment was a Coca Cola thing, before used to dress in green!
Oh, and thanks again for the Post of the Month Club initiative. I'll go now and read the other participants' Posts.

Beth said...

Halloween isn't very big in Australia. As a child in Wales I remeber having parties where we would get dressed up play games like apples in a bucket, but I don't have any memory of going around the houses trick or treating. We will half heartedly put a few candles and a few plastic spiders around the place tonight just in case any children call, but apart from that it's roll on Christmas here too!
PS Arrived at your linky party early for a change and even remembered the button! Yipee!

Zosia said...

In Poland Halloween is not celebrated. We celebrate All Saints Day on Nov. 1st (big holiday, day off work) and All Souls Day on Nov. 2nd (celebrated mostly in name, regular day, back to work). When I lived in Canada, I loved Halloween. I posted about it today. I will post about All Saints Day celebration tomorrow.

Please Do Not Feed The Animals. said...

I am always a bit baffled by the American celebrations too. I love the Harvest celebrations aspect with the pumpkins and things but there just doesn't seem to be any relation to what we think of as Halloween - celebrating All Saints Day and All Souls Day. We are taught to associate Halloween with a kind of day guarding against evil spirits and so we dress up as witches and ghosts and this sort of thing. Certainly wouldn't dress myself or my kids in anything cute as that just wouldn't be Halloween!

I have never gone Trick or Treating and I don't intend to take my children to do it either. I think there probably is some stiff British feeling that makes us think that knocking on other people's doors asking for sweeties is not the polite thing to do. However, this doesn't mean we don't have a lot of fun having celebrations and parties and dressing up together. And dooking for apples!

Guising is done on the night before Guy Fawkes night (5th Nov) and children go round the doors showing off their Guy creation. Like a scarecrow kind of thing meant to represent Guy Fawkes and which is burned at the top of the bonfire. I don't think it is done as much as previously - probably because Halloween is taking over.

Very impressed with your post - lot's of research there. Love that we are a bit baffled by the way Americans do Halloween and you are just as baffled at how we do it. :-)

Jane said...

Ah, most intriguing, Laura, I had always assumed the American tradition was much older. It is slowly catching on here although the standard position is more like the UK one - the whole 'cultural imperialism' issue. I'm going to post about our Halloween tonight! J x

Lilybets said...

In Italy you commemorate your dear losts,tomorrow, I will leave a table setting with food and wine for my father.I will add a letter to tell him what I couldn't say before.I hope he will visit me.

Ola said...

very good selection of photos!

Felicity said...

Thank you for this concise summary of the tradition with its true origins through to the shifts and changes.

We are very anti trick or treating in our home as it just feels like a marketing ploy by the retailers to get us to spend money on lollies.

We have a big birthday party to celebrate in our home tomorrow and there will be plenty of treats then so we've managed to avoid our kids going out and as we live on acreage I'd be surprised if anyone could be bothered walking all the way up our drive in the dark to come to our door....we do have lollies just in case though.

Happy day and thank you for hosting the POTMC once again.

Pondside said...

That was very well-done, and an excellent description of the holiday. When we lived in Germany there was a lot of derision regarding hallowe'en as being another crass American custom. I'm always puzzled by this European /British tendency in some quarters to paint North American customs as 'too much' or 'over the top'. Life is short, and it's lovely that children have a bit of brightness and fun as the days grow shorter

Belinda @ Wild Acre said...

Yes, I have always found the Halloween celebrations a real mishmash, slightly odd, slightly uncomfortable, slightly unsure what it is all for!! What I do increasingly love is the idea of welcoming winter in with fires in the hearth, candles, bonfires, lights of all sorts, a sort of marking of the seasons, of hunkering down and getting warm and toasty. I find it all really cosy and lovely until half way through January when I start longing for spring! xx

GirlSprout said...

I've always loved Halloween because one of my brother's birthdays falls around it. In the US, it's the second biggest retail holiday after Christmas. I even have a Halloween tree that I bring to work every year. Parents can bring their kids trick or treating to the office in the afternoon.

Thanks for hosting Post of the Month Club!

Grammy Goodwill said...

Thanks for such an interesting post. Your pictures are great, esp the spider web. I think Halloween has been hijacked by adults here in the US. When I was a child - I'm 58 - costumes were mostly put together from whatever we had at home. We went to houses around where we lived. We carved a jack o lantern. Today, there are elaborate decorations in the yard, adults dress up in store bought costumes, and kids trick or treat at the local malls. It's too much, in my opinion.

Liene said...

I love Halloween, and so far it's one of the things I miss most living in France. But it's a holiday that is what you make of it, so we're hosting our own party next weekend. Thanks for hosting post of the month club!

CowRoad said...

Wow, what an impressive blog! Once I am fully awake I will check out all the details. (it is only 6.27 am now...) ;-)

Mel Mel said...

Some of my fondest memories of being a child have to do with Halloween! It was just a fun night - getting to dress up as a make believe character whether it be a witch, a bunny or a princess. I usually made my own costume with Mom's help and we went around to just the close neighbor's houses to get candy. They would 'ooh' and 'ahh' over our outfits or pretend to be scared. Never used a pillowcase - that was considered greedy by my Mom! There wasn't any vandalism going on that we knew of. Maybe things were more innocent back in the 1970s. Oh, and I still dress up! :-)

Katie said...

I loved reading this post and learning the origin and how different cultures choose to celebrate or not celebrate, very interesting! thank you for writing it all out and sharing your beautiful photos.

happy halloween from virginia! :)

I Dream Of said...

Thanks for hosting another post of the month club. So interesting to learn about how Halloween is (or isn't) celebrated in the UK!

~Mendie~ said...

Great pictures!
(stopping by from Miss Elaine-ous Monday)

Joyce said...

We found it a confusing holiday when we lived there. My girls were older so didn't miss it too much. And we have a foot and a half of snow on the ground today so not sure how much trick or treating will happen. I might be forced to consume all the candy I bought. Uh oh.

topchelseagirl said...

OMG pillowcases - seriously?!?!
Yes trick or treating is a relatively recent American import.
When I was a kid Halloween was all about witches and ghoulies and is still seen here as a 'dark' occasion, but in a fun way. I don't understand Americans dressing up in cute costumes.
I do have a bowl of sweets ready for any callers this evening.

Elaine A. said...

This is SO interesting. I did not know any of that, thanks for the history and trivia! I'm going to have my hubby read this post, he'll like it too.

Oh and your photos are spectacular! Thanks for linking up today and so nice to "meet" you! :D

flowers on my table said...

Well Laura, you learn something new every day. I always thought going around the doors was an American idea, but now I know different! As a child I went around with my siblings wearing a false face (no costume),with turnip in hand, with a candle inside. We all sang a little song about Halloween coming and the goose getting fat,people would give us money, not sweets. We would be so excited to count it up at the end of the night!

My daughter has just gone out with some neighbour's children, dressed as a witch/vampire, with a big bag to collect sweets in. I have to say our neighbours are very generous.She will sing the same song as I did, but other children who come here will just stand there with their bags out!

I think it is an occasion for children and we adults become a little dull I think. (I include myself in that). Love your photos Laura. I am sorry I am coming to the party a little late.

Happy Halloween! Love Linda x

Gail Dixon (Louisiana Belle) said...

Thanks for the history lesson. So interesting...most I had not heard before. I felt shame instantly in reference to the pillow cases. Yeah, I can see how one might view it as greediness. We do not celebrate Halloween anymore because our 3 dogs go absolutely bananas when someone rings the doorbell. So we hide in the dark until it's all over. :/ But we did enjoy it when our kids were little. They had small plastic pumpkins to put their candy in. :)

Nieves said...

Very nice post about Halloween in England Laura, I thought Halloween celebration was more popular there, I was surprised of knowing it isn't as much as in the States. In Spain is quite popular now for children and young people, in fact my four nieces and nephews are going out tonight to Halloween parties! I have enclosed my October post too. Happy Halloween to you and your kids!!

Trish @ Mum's Gone To ... said...

I live in a farming community in Lincolnshire in the UK. In recent years some farmers have started to grow pumpkins so our town, Spalding, has a Pumpkin Festival at the beginning of October. There is a parade through the town with our Flower Queen in a Pumpkin coach, children dress up and the whole atmosphere is fun and, thankfully, not dark and scary.
I agree, however, that many people in the UK are still unsure about how to take trick or treating; most adults still very wary of it.

(Many thanks for coming over to my blog and becoming a follower. Lovely to 'meet' you)

Pink Princess said...

They're not so into Halloween here in Paris but the anglophone community (especially the American residents) do try to organize things for the children! Still not sure whether I'll introduce the tradition to my little girl but it is fun to see the children all dressed up!

Magali @ The Little White House said...

That was a very interesting post. In France also people seem to resist the fun of Hallowe'en. I did have candies at the ready, but this year only three groups of children came (I had many more last year, so I had bought lots of candies). Two mums came with little ones and they kind of "performed", saying "Thank You" before I even gave them anything!!! One of the mums tried to explain that "thank you" had to be said AFTER they got the candy... And I tried very hard not to laugh, as they were wearing scary costumes!

Chic Homeschool Mama said...

Oh what a lovely place you live- I would love to go there one day! I like the idea of a low key Halloween- it's just not my thing. Since you are from the US- do you still celebrate Thanksgiving in your own home? We have had Christmas stuff in our Walmart store since the middle of September- a bit too early since we just dipped below 100 degrees a couple weeks ago.

Jennifer@threedogsinagarden said...

I can see that from a point of view outside the North America one, Halloween might seem like an odd, even grim holiday. I can also see lots of reasons why merchants in the UK selling candy and costumes might want to embrace such a holiday.It will be interesting to see which holiday wins out in the end Halloween or Guy Fawkes.

MNUKGIRL said...

AMAZING! And your pictures....you have a serious talent my friend! OK...so my memories of growing up in rural North Dakota, USA is that we would get dress up WARM (because most years it was cold and possibly snowing) and then we'd wear the same plastic mask year after year (my folks never spent money on a costume back in the 1970's). We'd drive around the country side to our neighbors and say, "Trick or Treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat!" :) Well...ok...we only said that to our very close neighbors Bob & Judy...and it was fun! :) One neighbor made carameled apples every year...a favorite! When I hit my teenage years in the 80's, we would go into town and trick or treat a bit, but then run around (all in black) and soap windows. Usually the businesses downtown (town of 400 people) and maybe some teacher's homes. :) The fun and the challenge was to avoid the city cop! :) He did pick us up one night and scared the hell out of us by scolding us and having us get into the back of his pickup. :) After a little bit, he let us go, but told us to get our butts home! :) It was all in fun. Sometimes the "naughty kids" would throw eggs at the teachers that were NOT popular. :/ I never did that. Oh...and we always carried pillowcases...and living here in England....we carried pillowcases. But after a couple hours...the kids probably dropped 20 pieces of candy out of their bags. Definitely not what we'd pull in back in ND! :) Happy Halloween everyone! Fun times! Happy times!

webb said...

Very interesting post. Sadly, Halloween has both gone over the top here in the US, and at the same time trick-or-treating is dying out - at least among young children. We will be lucky to get six tonight.

Many churches have Trick or Trunk the Saturday before the 31st - back your car into the parking lot and serve candy out of the trunk. (I don't get it, either.) And many shopping malls give away candy. Both are designed to protect our children from the bad folks who take advantage of roving bands of little ones - and that is pathetic.

On the other hand, adults have adopted Halloween as a huge excuse to dress up and party. We are a weird culture!

Missy said...

Thank you for the background. I had a strange moment today when I though... Oh why do we do this haha!!! We only had 2 trick or treaters this year!! Really not hugely popular to go far so if the street hasn't many kids you tend not to get a lot!

Hope you've had a fun one :-)


Pom Pom said...

The kids at school (age 11) are excited to go out and gather candy, but in our neighborhood we get few trick-or-treaters. Many churches have harvest festivals instead. Some people put webs around their trees and hang ghosts. I think people like giving kids candy. They are almost always smiley and thankful. It's usually cold in Denver on Halloween, too!

Hines-Sight said...

Happy Halloween!

The Expat Wife said...

Happy Halloween! Thanks so much for your post on my blog that bought me here - it was really fascinating to read as you know Halloween in Australia is only really starting to get popular.

flowers on my table said...

Hi Laura, many thanks for your lovely comments, yes indeed the chinese lanterns have a little fruit called a gooseberry inside, but they are sweeter than a gooseberry, with a smooth skin. Thankyou for hosting your post of the month club. I'm off to have a look at what others have posted. Love Linda x

Tezzie said...

That is so interesting! I would've thought that English Halloween would've been much the same as N.American...go figure ;) Halloween isn't something that's observed here in Finland, at all, although I can see it becoming a 'thing' within the next 10-15 years...if marketing and consumerism have anything to say about it! LOL!

Thanks for coming by, and for following. Always nice to meet expats!

Kathy said...

VERY cool spider web photo!


barefoot mama said...

This is my first time to visit your space. Such a fun blog! I really like your meet and greet idea:) I liked reading this post about Halloween, so interesting. Barefoot Mama

Heather said...

Very interesting post. Where I live in the US, many churches oppose Halloween as pagan, and there have been home invaders disguised as trick or treaters, so not too many participate either. So sad, as I remember having so much fun as a child.

Barbara said...

Being in France there isn't any Halloween and my son never got to participate in the tradition, however this year we threw a party and it was amazing to see the joy in his face getting candy and playing while dressed up!

Mandi @ Southern Gnome said...

What an interesting post. It's interesting to read from the perspective of others and how differently the same holiday is celebrated (or not). I love Halloween. This was the first year we officially took my so Trick-or-Treating and he LOVED it. It's a blast to walk thru the neighborhood chatting with everyone. And having some candy to munch on isn't bad either.

Ida said...

This "American" loves Halloween. How interesting to read about the origins and how different this holiday is celebrated or looked at by other countries. I almost feel "guilty" now about asking for candy as a child. It's a fun thing to me and the wearing of "cute" costumes as well as "spooky" ones is all part of the fun. I think we Americans are misunderstood.

Ida said...

Oops - I wanted to comment that I loved all your different photo's with this post. My favorite was the one with the lone bird but they were all great.

Sorry but I sort of felt some of the comments about Americans and this holiday seemed a little bit mean. Maybe I'm just sensitive today.

Saun said...

That was great love your tree shot and your fog machine made me laugh. Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment.

Pom Pom said...

Hello! Hello! Yes, we live in the Denver metro area and I WILL try the tea shop you mentioned! Thanks!

Privet and Holly said...

What a cool summary
of Halloween in the U.K.
and in America; loved it!
My aunt who lives in London
sent me a similar account
about the lit candle outside,
etc. She had to yell across
the street to attract a few
costumed kiddos to her
door, but she wasn't going
to let the evening pass without
giving SOME candy away : )
Hope your kids had FUN!

xx Suzanne

PS: Would you consider keeping
Post of the Month open longer
so that those of us who are laggers
can still jump in? I'm still mopping
up from the birthday-Halloween
extravaganza that was our weekend!!

donna said...

Interesting post and summary of the differences! It's always been a fun holiday for our family. I guess it's called "Begger's night for a reason.
The photos are amazing!!

beetree said...

I think it's amazing that there were "No Trick-Or-Treaters" flyers being passed out! As a family we have used this time to dress up and meet neighbors, and that has been fun. We usually only go around our street, and then find a church that has a harvest party on that night- no gore, lots of games and fun. :)

Tracey N. said...

What a fabulous post with so many great pictures. I love the graveyard shot especially! What is the secret for such a fantastic spider web shot??

Happy Homemaker UK said...

@Chic Homeschool Mama - yes, we will always celebrate Thanksgiving wherever we live. It is such a wonderful family day, isn't it?!

@Tracey N - I stumbled upon the web on a dewy day. Just luck, and a camera always in my bag :)

Windmill Tales said...

Thanks for this post, I never knew so much about Halloween. It really isnt celebrated over here at all

Michelloui | The American Resident said...

I loved this post because I learned things about Halloween I never knew. Having lived in the UK for 20 years and being the only American amongst my group of friends, I have tried very hard to get the fun traditions going here. But recently, after complaining to an American friend (still int he States) about how quiet Britain is at Halloween, she gave examples of how completely over the top America is becoming with it. I suppose when Britain also sees the commercial value to be gained from the holiday then we will at last see it take off (which I think explains a lot of the size of the holiday in the States). So long as it never becomes as commercialised as I've been told it is across the pond!

Gilly said...

Your blog is so interesting.

We never celebrated Halloween as a child, I am much older now' My last church gave a party/disco to discourage the children from celebrating it. We did occasionally have children come round trick and treating.

However, we do celebrate Guy Fawkes day, 5th November, with a bonfire and fireworks, usually an organised one in the village.

Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
We see no reason why gunpowder treason
should every be forgot.

Years ago children used to make a guy and beg "A penny for the guy". They may still do, but I have not seen them for years.

Haddock said...

That was good and informative.
Every tradition or ritual has some origin which is really interesting.
I too am worried about the "bad behavior" that can happen when one follows this.

Iota said...

Interesting. I'm not sure you're right about guising, though. Maybe that was the origin of the word. But now, it's used for Guy Fawkes' night, when kids go out with their "guy" (ie dummy man) asking people "penny for the guy?" (so I don't know why we're so snooty about Hallowe'en being about begging, because Guy Fawkes' night has long had that tradition). Maybe the two got mixed together somehow, and "guising" became "guysing" over time.

Wife and Mother. said...

Interesting history. Also good to know how Halloween and Trick-or-Treating is currently perceived in England. Thanks for another great post!

Robynne's Nest said...

Hi Laura, what an interesting post...I was disappointed this year as there were hardly any trick or treaters at the door...I had a huge bowl of lollies ready (which my hubby is now working through) and we did our first Jack 'o lantern...my son went out with his friend dressed as a murder victim, covered in fake blood..however, he arrived at the door later with two police women because they were carrying a baseball bat (not brandishing, just for effect) and he had to leave it with us...turns out some villagers had complained about two boys acting in a threatening manner...we found out later it was two different young men who actually had pieces of wood with nails in the top....quite a different thing altogether...the police women pointed out that people are a bit nervous here following the riots, months ago... I would absolutely love to be in the U.S. one day and experience Halloween and Thanksgiving. Robx

Lola X said...

Such a great post! Love visiting your blog!

Lola x

MrsDG@TalesFromHomemadeHouse said...

I love your historical posts...even I don't know some of the things I find in them! Unfortunately Halloween isnt as big over here and is almost dormant in rural areas but in the major cities it is much more popular with houses being decorated and in each street the majority of householders will answer the door with treats and the "lights off" that let you know not to call are in the minority. I do envy the celebrations of the US, particularly Thanksgiving, we used to celebrate Harvest Festival when I was little but that's died out now too. I think schools are too PC nowadays, even the Nativity barely features Mary & Joseph anymore! It's such a shame as we are losing a strong part of our heritage.

Tanya said...

We are recent transplants to the UK from Texas. I also noticed that Halloween has a much "darker" side here than in the US. We went trick-or-treating in a neighborhood that has a large US expat community!

you should be out on a meadow said...

i like this post. so informative.