The history of trick or treating is weirder than you thought Service members and their families attend the Army's 229th Military Intelligence Battalion hosted by the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center "Trunk or Treat" event at Soldier Field, Oct. 28, 2016. (Presidio of Monterey/Neefer Duir/Flickr)
The history of trick or treating is weirder than you thought
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It's almost that time of year when children get into costume and traipse around the neighborhood ringing doorbells and begging for treats. When you think about it, trick or treating is kind of a weird thing, so where did it come from anyway?

Today I Found Out discovered that the practice began with the Celtic tradition of celebrating the end of the year by dressing up as evil spirits. The Celts believed that, as we moved from one year to the next, the dead and the living would overlap, and demons would roam the earth again. So dressing up as demons was a defense mechanism and if you encountered a real demon roaming the Earth, they would think you were one of them.

Fast forward to when the Catholic Church was stealing everybody's holidays and trying to convert them. They turned the demon dress-up party into "All Hallows Eve," "All Soul's Day," and "All Saints Day" and had people dress up as saints, angels and still a few demons. Today I Found Out writes:

As for the trick or treating, or "guising" (from "disguising"), traditions, beginning in the Middle-Ages, children and sometimes poor adults would dress up in the aforementioned costumes and go around door to door during Hallowmas begging for food or money in exchange for songs and prayers, often said on behalf of the dead.  This was called "souling" and the children were called "soulers".

You might think that this practice then simply migrated along with Europeans to the United States, but trick or treating didn't re-emerge until the 1920s and 1930s, and then it paused for a bit during World War II because of sugar rations, but its now back in full force.

The term "trick or treat" dates back to 1927. Today I Found Out explains:
The earliest known reference to "trick or treat", printed in the November 4, 1927 edition of the Blackie, Alberta Canada Herald, talks of this.

Hallowe'en provided an opportunity for real strenuous fun. No real damage was done except to the temper of some who had to hunt for wagon wheels, gates, wagons, barrels, etc., much of which decorated the front street. The youthful tormentors were at back door and front demanding edible plunder by the word "trick or treat" to which the inmates gladly responded and sent the robbers away rejoicing.

The British hate Halloween, apparently. In 2006, a survey found that over half of British homeowners turn off their lights and pretend not to be home on Halloween. Yet another reason by the United States is happy to be free from British rule - no fun.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What part of the history of trick or treating did you find most surprising? Why?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (60)
  • Brooklyn U-kla
    10/28/2019 - 10:49 a.m.

    the most surprising thing in this article is that the British hated Halloween and turned their lights off in there house no one would go to their house.

  • AB-bad
    10/28/2019 - 10:50 a.m.

    I am glad the United States is free from that British rule. But why don't the people of Britain like halloween? It's a time to run around a neighborhood knock on doors and say Trick or Treat!!

  • Sarah B-kla
    10/28/2019 - 10:51 a.m.

    The part that I found most surprising is that british people don't like halloween because halloween is super fun and you get to dress up which is the best part. It is also weird because most countries do something like halloween and trick or treating and britain does nothing.

  • Izabella W-kla
    10/28/2019 - 10:58 a.m.

    until the 1920s and 1930s,and than it stop for a while because when world war || a thing called sugar rations. The practice made the europeans simply migrated along to the united states.

  • KiontrieU-bad
    10/28/2019 - 11:06 a.m.

    history of trick or treating is weirder than you thought When you think about it trick or treating is kind of a weird thing so where did it come from anyway Today I Found Out discovered that the practice began with the Celtic What part of the history of trick or treating did you find most surprising Why

  • NashaiJ-bad1
    10/28/2019 - 11:06 a.m.

    What I find most surprising is do anyone know the real meaning of halloween and how does it affect anyone and does it really have a meaning.

  • SaMeM-bad
    10/28/2019 - 11:06 a.m.

    The fact that it started because the Celtic thought that demons came to life was very interesting.

  • JaShaunaM-bad1
    10/28/2019 - 11:07 a.m.

    That trick or treating was called souling and children were called soulers

  • NyoN-bad
    10/28/2019 - 11:07 a.m.

    The most surprising was the fact that Celtic thought that the demons came to life was very interesting

  • DynastiiJ-bad
    10/28/2019 - 11:09 a.m.

    What I found most surprising about the history of trick or treating is at the beginning in the Middle-Ages, children and sometimes poor adults would dress up in the aforementioned costumes and go around door to door during Hallowmas begging for food or money in exchange for songs and prayers, often said on behalf of the dead. This was called "souling" and the children were called "soulers". But, what I think about trick or treating the tradition costumes, candy, and hanging out with family

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