And there my over the pond friends is the origin of trick or treating..... we called it mumping, guising, wassailing, any number of names, but the same sort of thing.
A gang of men who have no full time occupation as winter sets in, travel round to those who do, either singing, dancing, or performing a play for treats (beer), or playing tricks on the occupier if they didn't get anything. Disguises were very necessary, to prevent retaliation, and thus were quite effective and all manner of costumes, different walks, methods for changing gaits/posture/silhouettes were used. Tricks were harmless pranks, like tying the gate shut or hiding the milking stools that sort of thing, that were all taken in good fun, by all members of the community, because it was a break in the monotony of winter. Nowadays, it's been taken across the pond and back, I have little thugs demanding money and sweets with menaces for nothing better than a sheet with a hole in it, but I can still tell it's that little bugger from down the road who keeps dropping his chip wrappers in my garden. He threatens to kick my door in if he doesn't get a pound.... Thanks guys!
Wassailing was just another way to get a free drink/mince pie off the neighbours, partake a bit of the bounty of the Manor or local land owner, and have a nice walk in the fresh air. As you were wishing all your friends a good Christmas/New Year you got the chance to have a natter and maybe swap a few songs. Of course you were expected to reciprocate when the Wassailers came to your house, and I guess the songs were a sort of early warning siren, broach that barrel, we're just rounding the gatepost and will be in your porch in a minute.....