By: Clinton Wee Yuan
“Trick or Treat!!” – the infallible sales pitch used by children all over the world to obtain their beloved teeth-corroding treasure that is candy. Note how the phrase has evolved from a question to a straight-up statement. The ancient tradition of trick-or-treating goes way back to the invention of Halloween.
Back then, children and the poor would dress up in costumes as they would today, and go door to door begging for food & money in exchange for prayers or songs. This was known as “guising”. Albeit today, only children still do it, begging was replaced with the magical phrase that we know today, and the exchange was candy for basically nothing in return for the homeowners.
Trick-or-treating isn’t the only Halloween tradition that has changed. When asked, most people don’t even really know what Halloween is really about in the first place.
The origin of this spooky holiday dates back 6000 years ago where it started as an ancient Celtic festival called Samhain. The Celts believed that on this very day, the boundary between the world of the living and the dead will be blurred, allowing spirits from both dimensions to interact with one another. Although this sounds like the plot from “Thor 2” where harmonic convergence allows the 7 realms to be aligned with one another, the Celts had surprisingly convincing evidence to back this claim. Moreover, they weren’t the only people to stumble upon this horrifying truth, as the Chinese also discovered the “Hungry Ghost Festival” which lies just a month earlier, and has almost the exact same plot. Coincidence? I think not.
Unlike Thor 2 however, the original storyline of Halloween has been tampered with and skewed throughout generations, giving birth to a totally different holiday altogether. Nowadays Halloween is better known to kids as a chance to stock up on free candy, and to adults as a horror themed Christmas.
Speaking of Christmas, even this holiday isn’t what it used to be. Santa was the common name of the Fire God who would come down the chimneys of pagans to burn infants and consume them as human sacrifices. He’s not getting any cookies and milk from me this year. So why do we celebrate these grotesque holidays in the first place? The reason is that we seldom reflect on why we believe the things we believe or do the things we do. We live in this world filled with all kinds of traditions, but seldom do we seek the truth behind them. In a nutshell? Monkey see, monkey do.
Everything changes with time. Although the current Halloween is by far more child-friendly than the original Halloween, it is crucial to keep in mind how nothing is immune to the flow of time. Even sacred traditions and memories eventually bow down to this principle. Imagine our world 100 years down the road, Halloween may become a whole new holiday altogether. And if we are really lucky, by then, trick-or-treating would have faded into a myth just like how guising is today.
By: Clinton Wee Yuan