Treats for Halloween (with No Tricks)

By Spencer Hyman  ·  25th October 2021  ·  Weekly Blog

What is associated with the colour orange (and increasingly black, purple and even green), celebrated on the 31st October, emerged out of “guising”, “mumming” and “souling”, is second only to Christmas as a commercial holiday (in the US alone $6bn is apparently spent), and one where over 20% of millennials are now dressing up their pets in themed costumes?

The answer of course is Halloween. And now lockdown is over, we are looking forward to some “trick or treating” (or if you are in the US, you may be “tailgating or treating” so that kids don’t have too walk so far).

Try as we might, it’s not easy to find links between craft chocolate and Halloween. Nonetheless as a Halloween ‘treat’ we have assembled two great gifting boxes and a set of bars that are coloured, orange, black or purple. Please find them below.

Even though we’ve not found any links between craft chocolate and Halloween, we’ve had some fun researching Halloween and its traditions for you to contemplate as you savour these bars. Here’s the questions we tried to explore:

  1. Why is Halloween associated with the colours orange, black and purple? (Spoiler alert: Orange and black are what you’d expect, purple is a little less clear).
  2. When, and where, did the word “Halloween” come from? (Hint: A “thank you” to Scotland and Robert Burns, but the origins, are far older).
  3. Why do we ‘trick or treat’ on Halloween? (Again, it’s not clear, but it appears to be related to “souling”, “mumning” and “guising”).

Any which way, we hope you enjoy our range of Halloween inspired craft chocolate treats. Please purchase by Wednesday 27th October and choose Royal Mail 24 hour tracked delivery to make sure that they arrive on time (assuming you are in the UK).


The word “Halloween” can be dated back to the early 18th Century Scotland. And the publication of Robert Burns’ poem ‘Halloween’ in 1785 catapulted the term into general usage.

Literally the word “Hallowe’en” means “Saints’ evening” and is the Scottish term for All Hallows’ Eve (the evening before All Hallows’ Day), with the Scots changing “eve” to “e’en” or “een”.

At the same time, Halloween has been celebrated in a range of forms far earlier, with various traditions going back even further. For example, the phrase “All Hallows'” is found in Old English; “All Hallows’ Eve” as early as 1556. And Shakespeare includes “souling” (the custom of baking and sharing soul cakes, which is one of the precursors of “trick or treating”) in his play The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

Origins and History

Whilst the term Halloween is credited to the Scots, credit for the origins and customs of Halloween needs to be shared more widely across the Celts of Wales, Ireland, Brittany, Cornwall and Scotland. Each of these Celtic peoples used different names for what became Halloween; Samhain in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man, Calan Gaeaf in Wales, Kalan Gwav in Cornwall and Kalan Goañv in Brittany. In all cases the term meant the same; “first day of winter”; half way between Summer and Winter equinoxes. And the festival was used firstly to entreat the gods, fairies and spirits (the Aos Si) for their support during the winter months, and secondly to offer succour to the souls of the deceased. As part of the prayers and celebration, offerings of food and drink left were left outside the house, or even extra places in the meal were set.

As with a few other festivals, Christianity appears to have subsumed this festival. The early Christian festivals for many Saints and martyrs were mainly during the spring time. However, in the late 8th Century, Popes Gregory III and Gregory IV pulled these festivals together into “AllHallowtide” to “honour the Saints of the Church and pray for the recently deceased”. AllHallowtide spans three days; All Hallows’ Day (also known as All Saints) on the 1st November, All Soul’s Day on the 2nd November, and All Hallows Eve on the 31st October. Today such actions would run the risk of accusations of ‘cultural appropriation’. But as the Church was trying to convert the Celtic tribes, it clearly made sense to leverage the festivals and practises of Samhain, Calan/Kalan etc. And it clearly worked!

Customs and Traditions

Samhain, Calan Gaea, Kalan Gwav and Kalan Goañv all involved food offerings and prayers.  And it’s not hard to see how these food evenings merged and morphed into “souling”, “guising” and “mumming” which then became ‘trick or treating’. 

As early as the 15th century there are records of poor folk promising to pray and sing for the souls of their richer neighbours in return for “soul cakes” on all Hallows Eve. Indeed, the custom still exists in various parts of the world; for example, in the Philippines they have a custom called Pangangaluwa where kids drape themselves in white cloths on All Hallow’s Eve and visit neighbours, sing and ask for prayers and sweets.

A similar 15th and 16th centuries practice of singing and praying, this time in fancy dress, can be found in Germany, Scandinavia and other parts of Norther Europe and was known as “mumming”. Scotland developed a similar practice called “guising” at the same time, and added in the practise of carrying turnip lanterns late 19th century.

19th century immigrants to North America brought these traditions with them to Canada and the US. As far back as 1911, the practise of “guising” was reported in Kingston Ontario (Canada). And over the next decades guising gradually morphed into trick or treating during the 1930s, with the term “trick or treating” first appearing in 1934. And instead of turnips, Americans appropriated pumpkins to place the candle (or more accurately coal) in their “Jack O’ Lanterns”.

All sorts of other customs and traditions have also been added, many borrowed from other nearby festivals (e.g. caramel and toffee apples from Bonfire night in the UK). And the practise of lighting candles to pray for the dead  incorporated into pumpkins and turnips via an Irish legend of ‘Jack’ tricking the devil out of a lump of hot coal to help him survive the cold of the limbo between heaven and hell.

Increasingly, Halloween has been commercialised and evolved in some peculiar directions. The US now has “trunk-or-treat” parties to keep kids safe and handle the logistics of American suburbs where houses can be miles apart.  Halloween has become a huge card giving market, and even pets are now dressed up as part of the massive the Halloween commercial opportunity.

To date however craft chocolate has not found a way into guising, souling, mumming or even “trick or treating”. To address this we’ve pulled together bars in orange, black and purple for you to make your own traditions.  And we’ve also two great gift boxes (see HERE for the smaller box, and HERE for the larger box).

Please purchase by Wednesday 27th October and choose Royal Mail 24 hour tracked delivery to make sure that they arrive on time (assuming you are in the UK).

Happy treats, guising, souling and mumming!


P.S. A huge thanks to all of you who made it up to our craft chocolate takeover at Canopy Market, Kings Cross last weekend; we were blown away by your enthusiasm and support! So yes, we will be doing another set of tastings and talks (you can mark your diaries: December 10th-12th). Sadly, we can’t assemble all the makers again, but we’ve some great other talks and activities. And in the meantime, we are editing all the videos of the tastings from the weekend to share with anyone who couldn’t make it.

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