Trick-or-treat and the Unicef con­nec­tion

The Irish Times - - Comment & Letters -

Sir, – Some time in the mid 1960s, Michael Don­nelly a friend of mine, since de­ceased, was con­tacted by a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Unicef to pro­mote the idea of “trick-or-treat” at Hal­loween.

This fundrais­ing ac­tiv­ity, which was al­ready es­tab­lished in the United States, was a means to raise money for and also to pro­mote the work for that or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Up un­til then Hal­loween had a much lower pro­file in Ire­land. There was no dress­ing up in ghoul­ish gear or vis­it­ing houses.

As a pri­mary teacher I re­mem­ber us­ing the sim­ple games then in vogue as aids in the lessons on “Oiche Shamhna”.

Th­ese ac­tiv­i­ties were based on try­ing (with­out use of the hands) to bite an ap­ple as it swung on a length of twine, or at­tempt­ing to fore­cast events in the fol­low­ing 12 months us­ing three saucers. Each saucer con­tained ei­ther earth, water or a ring.

The blind­folded par­tic­i­pants were in­vited to touch one of the saucers. If they put their hand in the clay it was a sign that they would die, in the water that they would em­i­grate and if they touched the ring that they would be mar­ried. All harm­less fun, not to be taken se­ri­ously.

Th­ese go­ings-on were house-cen­tred and there was no ques­tion of wan­der­ing around the lo­cal­ity col­lect­ing any food or money. That was some­thing for St Stephen’s Day and the wren boys. Money be­came an is­sue only if one walked down Dublin’s O’ Connell Street and was ac­costed by en­ter­pris­ing chil­dren who in­vited you to “help the Hal­loween party”.

Michael Don­nelly asked me to help or­gan­ise a trick-or-treat event in Dublin.

Some chil­dren dressed up in Hal­loween out­fits, and, car­ry­ing col­lec­tion boxes they were brought to the old Jury’s Ho­tel in Dame Street for a meet­ing with the press. A photo of the group of us ap­peared in Dubliner’s Diary in the Evening Press as part of an ar­ti­cle on this new Hal­loween en­ter­prise.

Of the out­come of this event I can­not re­mem­ber any­thing. But trick-or-treat as a Hal­loween ac­tiv­ity is now firmly es­tab­lished through­out Ire­land.

I won­der if any­body re­mem­bers the Unicef con­nec­tion?

Does any of the money col­lected help to fund Unicef or some other char­i­ties or does it all go to help the Hal­loween par­ties? – Yours, etc,

TIM Mc GILLICUDDY, Scar­iff,

Co Clare.

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