Long before Halloween was the go-to holiday to be in costume, children in New York City would dress up on the final Thursday in November in what was known as Ragamuffin Day — which also happened to coincide with Thanksgiving.
As part of the Ragamuffin festivities, children, dressed in rags and masks (known as Thanksgiving Maskers), would go door-to-door and ask, “Anything for Thanksgiving?” Usually they would receive a treat of some sort: candy, fruit, or pennies.
The tradition stemmed from the late 1700s, when grown homeless men, during the holidays, would dress in women’s clothing and beg for food and money. In the late 1800s, the tradition evolved into annual event for children.
Ragamuffin Day ended in 1941, when President Roosevelt and Congress established Thanksgiving as a federal holiday. Many of the traditions associated with Ragamuffin Day found their way into Halloween.