The Celtic Mythology of Tricks and Treats

The Celtic Mythology of Tricks and Treats

Op-Ed: Halloween’s Celtic roots are a lot spookier than witches and candy bars


Sep 25, 2013 at 12:01 AMSep 25, 2013 at 5:57 PM

On Halloween night, Halloween is celebrated not just as a day off from school, work and other obligations, but also as a time for families to gather, and often as an excuse to eat too much and do some drinking.

Halloween is a time for trick or treating, costumes, candy and of course, the ever-present “trick” or tricksters.

“Trick” is derived from the Latin trickerus – “having a trick or a treat.”

“Trickster” is derived not only from trick, but also from tricker (a beggar). The OED explains that trick is originally a word meaning “the act of a beggar in trying to beg.”

Celtic mythology is rich with stories and characters that deal with trickery, tricksters, trick or treating, and good old-fashioned Halloween fare, such as candy and costumes.

Most of the Celtic myths are stories of trickster figures (the trickster does not always always win the trick). In the mythological tales of the Celts, tricksters are often beautiful girls or young men, beautiful men or beautiful women.

These lovely-faced, beautiful-bearded or beautiful-bodied characters are always searching for the elusive Celtic goddess, Ereshkigal, or “the beautiful one.” To them, the beautiful ones will appear and will give them whatever they need to make them young again. A girl or woman who has fallen into a state or condition that is more beautiful than the average or usual is the answer to Ereshkigal’s prayers. In the Celtic myths, the women who are the “beautiful ones” are “the beautiful ones.”

There are a handful of stories, however, that suggest the tricksters’ power comes from magic and not from the goddess. The most famous of these stories is the tale of the beautiful young girl, Kratos, who was cursed by

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