One story about Jack, an Irishman, who was not allowed
into Heaven because he was stingy with his money. So
he was sent to hell. But down there he played tricks
on the Devil (Satan), so he was kicked out of Hell and
made to walk the earth forever carrying a lantern.
Well, Irish children made Jack's lanterns on October
31st from a large potato or turnip, hollowed out with
the sides having holes and lit by little candles inside.
And Irish children would carry them as they went from
house to house begging for food for the village Halloween
festival that honored the Druid god Muck Olla. The Irish
name for these lanterns was 'Jack with the lantern'
or 'Jack of the lantern,' abbreviated as ' Jack-o'-lantern'
and now spelled 'jack-o-lantern.'
The traditional Halloween you can read about in most
books was just children's fun night. Halloween celebrations
would start in October in every elementary school.
Children would make Halloween decorations, all kinds
of orange-paper jack-o-lanterns. And from black paper
you'd cut 'scary' designs ---an evil witch with a pointed
hat riding through the sky on a broomstick, maybe with
black bats flying across the moon, and that meant bad
luck. And of course black cats for more bad luck. Sometimes
a black cat would ride away
into the sky on the back of the witch's broom.
And on Halloween night we'd dress up in Mom or Dad's
old shoes and clothes, put on a mask, and be ready to
go outside. The little kids (children younger than we
were) had to go with their mothers, but we older ones
went together to neighbors' houses, ringing their doorbell
and yelling, 'Trick or treat!'
meaning, 'Give us a treat (something to eat) or we'll
play a trick on you!' The people inside were supposed
to come to the door and comment on our costumes.
Oh! here's a ghost. Oh, there's a witch. Oh, here's
an old lady.
Sometimes they would play along with us and pretend
to be scared by some ghost or witch. But they would
always have some candy and maybe an apple to put in
our 'trick or treat bags.' But what if no one come to
the door, or if someone chased us away? Then we'd play
a trick on them, usually taking a piece of soap and
make marks on their windows. .And afterwards we would
go home and count who got the most candy.
One popular teen-agers' Halloween trick was to unroll
a roll of toilet paper and throw it high into a tree
again and again until the tree was all wrapped in the
white paper. The paper would often stay in the tree
for weeks until a heavy snow or rain washed it off.
No real harm done, but it made a big mess of both the
tree and the yard under it. One kind of Halloween mischief.