Before Halloween was a widely-celebrated holiday, little kids used to dress up as hobos and beg for change, a practice known as Thanksgiving Masking. The tradition originated in the early 1800’s when homeless men would wander from home to home on Thanksgiving and Christmas, demanding food and money. The rich had the practice outlawed but the children continued in the same spirit, no doubt due to some inspired adult convinced that the ‘cute’ kid would do better than he did. In any event, the practice was eventually folded into Halloween. You can see pictures of Thanksgiving Masking at the Library of Congress photostream.