.. not quite an old UK tradition .. like so many older beliefs this annoying tradition has moved a long way from its original idea .. and of course been commercialised along the way .. the following is one explanation of the roots of the dreaded T&T ..Phil said:
I was blissfully unaware that kids had (re-)started trick-and-treating in the UK. (It is an old tradition, but as far as I am aware, had largely died out up to a few years ago. It seems to have been re-imported from the US, where the traditions have been upheld).
.. I have also seen Irish blogs that suggest that just prior to Halloween the children would go door to door collecting for the Halloween celebration ..Trick or treating has its roots during the Progression when the poor went around asking for soul cakes, a certain type of bread people would bake on All Soul’s Day.
“You would offer to pray for someone’s dead relative if they would give you a soul cake,” she said.
Eventually, adults stopped participating in the event and left it to the children. The roaming about was called going a-souling.
Soul cakes stopped being the treat of choice and householders eventually began handing out any type of food or drink.
.. another blogger expands on Pouca ..When I was growing up we dressed up in rags and put soot on our faces or wore cheap masks. We went door to door and when opened we use to say "Penny for the Pouca'. Normally we got nuts, fruit and if we were really lucky small change.
.. and from Wikipedia ..
… I remember growing up in rural Ireland! It was called Pooky night (whether as a shortening of spooky or a corruption of Pouca I have no idea) and the rhyme went "tonight, tonight is pooky night, if you don't give us some money we'll haunt you all night".
.. these simple festivities seem a long way from the garish extravagance of T&T .. to give some idea of the scale of the commercialisation .. from Wikipedia again ..In some parts of Ireland and Scotland children still go guising. In this custom the child performs some sort of show, i.e. sings a song or tells a ghost story, in order to earn their treats.
.. does anybody think that the spending levels would have gone down ?? .. even with the GFC ?? ..BIGresearch conducted a survey for the National Retail Federation in the United States and found that 53.3% of consumers planned to buy a costume for Halloween 2005, spending $38.11 on average (up $10 from the year before). They were also expected to spend $4.96 billion in 2006, up significantly from just $3.3 billion the previous year.
.. with reference to the pouca, this is one of those words with several spellings ..
.. incidentally this scourge is rearing its commercialised head in Aus and it is not surprising that when you ask the kids, “What does ‘trick or treat’ mean?”, you invariably get the answer that, “You have to give us some lollies!” .. further clarification around what the “trick” part implies is met with blank stares .. or even worse, “We throw eggs at your house!” .. so wholesome .. in older “children” it is just becoming another night to get dressed up and get pissed out of all recognition and for pubs to charge unbelievable prices for “Halloween” cocktails, restaurants to charge double for “Halloween” food that is generally the same old same old given a “spooky” name or god forbid coloured black and orange in some way ..Phooka
There is also an Irish fairy known as the phooka, pouca, or puca, this is very similar to the Welsh pwca. The Irish phooka derives its name from ‘poc’ and refers to a male goat. It has also been speculated that the name might also possess Scandinavian origins and refer to ‘pook’ meaning a nature spirit. This second origin would be congruent with the use of the term phooka as it is sometimes used within Ireland as a general reference to all fairies.
As a shape-shifter, the phooka is able to take on a variety of animal forms including that of a goat, a horse, an ass, a bull, and an eagle. In Co. Waterford and Co. Wexford, for example, the phooka appears as an eagle with a huge wingspan.
The phooka has been described as a beautiful and sleek horse, dark and wild in countenance, with a long mane and sulphurous yellow eyes. The beast roams across the countryside at night wrecking havoc and mayhem. If it rains and the sun is shining brightly, it is considered a sign that the phooka will come out that night. Of course, it is not all that unusual for the sun to be shining while it rains in Ireland so it must be assumed that the phooka is out almost every night!
The phooka is said to tear down fences and gates, tramples and ruins crops, and frightens the farm animals to the point where the chickens will not lay eggs and the cows will not give milk. But, this is not all without good reason. The phooka is mischievous and will call out the name of those it wants to ride with him. If refused, the phooka will revenge itself by damaging the landowner’s property.
Contrary to popular belief, the phooka was not always malevolent. In times when the old traditions were still upheld by the people, the phooka was venerated for his wisdom. The day that was held as being most sacred to the phooka was the first of November. Mountains, hills, and other high places – these were the sacred places where the phooka could be found and rituals were performed in his honor.
The Púca na Samhna emerges from Croagh Patrick in Co. Mayo at Samhain and will speak to people of the coming year and foretells the events that might befall them during that time. In past times, gifts were left for the phooka at the mountain. But, this tradition has ceased due to the rise in Catholicism and the presence of the clergy. In the case of the story of the piper and the phooka from the “Leabhar Sgeulaigheachta,” the phooka conveyed the piper to the sidhe mound at Croagh Patrick and back again without causing him any harm.
In Co. Roscommon the phooka is said to appear as a black goat with large curling horns. However, in Killorglin, Co. Kerry, there is also a three-day festival that is held in mid-August known as the Puck Fair. A wild goat, or puck, is brought down from the mountains and is crowned as king. The definitive history of the festival remains unknown, but the fair has been held since 1603 and is probably older than that. During the English occupation, it is said that a goat broke away from its herd and alerted the nearby town of Killorglin of danger of an approaching army. In that goat’s honor, the recent Puck Fair was born. Perhaps we can speculate that it was indeed one of the phooka that came to the aid of the people? We will never know…
Small mountain lakes and springs are sometimes known as the pollaphuca, or the Phooka’s Pool. Many of these waters originate or are within close proximity to the River Bann and the River Liffey. Many of the pollaphuca have been renamed in more Catholic time to St. Patrick’s Well. The poula phook, is the name of a waterfall that can be found in the Wicklow mountains where the River Liffey flows, but it is also a term that can be used to describe almost any cave or hole in the ground.
In Co. Fermanagh there lies the Binlaughlin Mountain is also known as the ‘peak of the speaking horse’. In the south of the county there was even a tradition of gathering at certain high places, such as the tops of mountains, to wait for the speaking horse, or phooka, to appear. This occurred on Bilberry Sunday, or what some prefer to refer to as Lughnasdah.
The phooka, or aughisky, is said to also take the shape of a horse. It is said the if a person is able to bridle one of the aughisky and keep them away from the water that they make a most wonderful steed. However, should the fairy horse see but a single glimpse of the water, he would run at full speed toward the water plunging the rider into its depths and devouring him. The bridles used are said in some instances to belong to the phooka, but that seems doubtful. Some stories refer to the use of three of the hairs from a phooka to be used in the making of the bridle and that the power would be granted to person to capture the creature – but the ongoing conflict to gentle the creature would still be quite voracious.
The phooka is also said to induce children to mount him, and then to plunge with the children over a precipice killing them. The Scottish kelpie is also attributed with similar feats.
Some bits of folklore states that the phooka is only visible to the person to whom it attaches itself. The phooka is also said to take the form of the bogeyman and frighten children. This folk belief is still commonly held in Co. Laois.
Some stories relate how the phooka is helpful and will assist with the sweeping and cleaning of the house. In the case of the story of the piper and the phooka from the “Leabhar Sgeulaigheachta,” the phooka conveyed the piper to the assembly of the sidhe at Croagh Patrick and carried him back again without causing the piper any harm.
In the rural regions of Co. Down, the phooka appears as a small misshapen goblin and demands the ‘phooka's share' of the harvest that remains on the ground. The folk custom of this area make the gate posts of your land in such a manner as the right post contains a nice bench for the benevolent phooka to sit and the left post has sharp rocks for the nasty malignant fairies. The Mountains of Mourne are also home to the phooka.
Throughout Ireland, the blackberries are considered to belong to the phooka and that they are spoiled and no longer edible after the first of November which commemorates the beginning of winter. Some say that the phooka has spit on them, but this seems odd as the act of spitting can be seen as a blessing rather than a curse. But the sentiment is apparent in other bits of folklore that state that the phooka either urinated or defecated on the blackberries!
In other areas of Ireland, the blackberries are considered to belong to the phooka after Michaelsmas has passed. It is said that Michaelsmas was the date on which the Catholic devil was thrown out of heaven and landed on a blackberry bramble. In his anger, he cursed the bush and performed several heinous acts that consequently made the berries inedible.
This depiction of the phooka also harkens back to the folkloric depictions of the Catholic devil as a horned and cloven-hoofed creature that appears as half-human and half-goat. In many ways this countenance is also reminiscent of a satyr or the appearance of Shakespeare’s Puck character in his play, “A Midsummer’s Nights Dream.”
.. actually it would be nice if one could get a good feed of colcannon and a rich Guinness pie all washed down with a nice pint of Kilkenny .. looks like I’ll just have to cook it myself ..
WoZ checking if he has some Guinness .. for the pie of course ..