Tuesday, October 25, 2011


A lot of people in the UK (England, in particular) decry Halloween as an American import.  In fact it's based on a long tradition.
In Scotland and Ireland, Guising — children disguised in costume going from door to door for food or coins — is a traditional Halloween custom, and is recorded in Scotland at Halloween in 1895 where masqueraders in disguise carrying lanterns made out of scooped out turnips, visit homes to be rewarded with cakes, fruit and money.
 The practise of Guising at Halloween in North America is first recorded in 1911, where a newspaper in Kingston, Ontario reported children going "guising" around the neighborhood.

When I first came to Corby in the early 1980s the local kids would dress up and go round neighbours' houses, saying rhymes like:

I'm an Aberdonian
I come from Aberdeen
I've come all the way to Corby
to get my Halloween 
The sky is blue
the grass is green
please may I have
a Halloween?
Now they're more likely just to say 'Trick or treat' but it is really just carrying on a long tradition of children 'begging' at certain times of the year. We always had 'Penny for the Guy' and  used to go carol-singing around neighbours' houses - and not for charity, either.

All generally good fun and a way for neighbours to meet local kids.

I spent Halloween 2007 in Brooklyn - it was delightful to see the elaborate decorations on certain houses, where children were obviously welcomed.
I'm afraid the home-made cats' ears didn't work very well.

The shops on one of the main avenues were nearly all open that evening and handing out candy goodies, and there was a good-natured parade with music.

One of the decorated houses

A store giving out candy

The traffic lights are not part of the costume
She looks a bit spooked? It was getting cold!

And another lovely idea - share or give a scary book!


Anne said...

Personally I like this tradition, and I regret not being able to do that when I was a child.

aliqot said...

We didn't celebrate Halloween when I was a child, either - though we did Bonfire Night, with jacket potatoes in the fire embers and bonfire toffee - treacle toffee.

Anne said...

Weren't bonfires for Guy Fawkes Day ?
I remember great fireworks on a November night in Corby, which was very strange to me who was used to 14th July 's fireworks...

aliqot said...

Bonfire Night is Guy Fawkes Night. Nov 5th - perhaps 'the only person to enter parliament with honest intentions?' ;-)

When I was a kid there weren't so many organised events - it was very much a backyard affair. It was undoubtedly more dangerous, and less spectacular and there were certainly accidents.

Corby does a fantastic display every year at the boating lake.