Dressing Up For Thanksgiving
Believe it or not, Thanksgiving used to include a tradition beyond the feasting on turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie, and, of course, the day-after insanity of Black Friday. The holiday also included something called “Thanksgiving Masking.”
Masking began in the mid-19th century, rising from the practice of “mumming.” Mumming was an old practice in which men ventured from house to house dressed up in costumes, asking for food and money, occasionally in exchange for music. Interestingly, the English had a few traditions, catterning and clementing, which fell on November 23 and 25 respectively. These two holidays were marked by children chanting to beg for food. It is possible that the Masking tradition rose out of a combination of mumming, souling (the practice of asking for food on All Souls’ Day), catterning, and clementing, as well as a Scottish and Irish tradition known as guiling (people dressed in costumes and went between homes singing and offering other services in exchange for a treat).