“A penny for the Guy” is dead, long live “trick or treat”

It doesn’t seem all that long ago that British kids collected money over the Halloween period by wheeling around a dummy and collecting a “penny for the Guy”.

These days though, I doubt that many would even know the phrase or where it originally came from. In case you’re one of those, it’s a phrase commemorating Guy Fawkes and his attempt to blow up the houses of Parliament as part of the Gunpowder Plot way back in 1605.

There was a vaguely confusing few years when that went out of fashion with nothing to replace it but thanks to the Americanisation of the Halloween period we are firmly in the “trick or treat” era. Still, at least it hasn’t degenerated into the non-traditional cry of “bon bons” (sweeties) of the French who arrived at that with no previous Halloween tradition.

It’s fortunate for us this week anyway in that it’s been pouring for most of this week but was quite pleasant whilst we were walking round with the kids on Halloween night last week.

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One Response to ““A penny for the Guy” is dead, long live “trick or treat””

  • Ross says:

    I am trying to survey the survival of the Penny for the guy tradition across the UK to work out if there are any patterns or strongholds. The website blurb goes as following:
    Penny for the guy sighting project

    In the weeks before Bonfire or Guy Fawkes’ Night children could be seen on street corners, outside shops, schools, parks and basically everywhere with a crude effigy crying “Penny For the Guy”….then they appeared to disappear or have they?

    Is it a dying or dead tradition everywhere? This project aims to catalogue sightings.

    So the intention of this blog is for people to add sightings so that the present survival can be assessed. Is the tradition healthier in the North or the South? What do the Guys look like? How old are the children and so on? That’s why if you see one please make comment on the website http://pixyledpublications.wordpress.com/ all entries gratefully received.

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