The history of trick or treating is weirder than you thought
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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What part of the history of trick or treating did you find most surprising? Why?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • MiracleW-bad3
    10/28/2019 - 11:18 a.m.

    What i found most surprising was that it started because the Celtic thought that demons came to life was very interesting To me and that most States don’t like Halloween i find it fun and you can dress up as your favorite super hero or anything you really like .

  • Gallego,Sebastian-rod
    10/28/2019 - 01:17 p.m.

    Gallego, Sebastian
    Bridges Preparatory School

    To me, the weirdest thing about the history of Halloween is that they used to beg instead of just ask. It shows how cultures and activities can evolve. Imagine what would happen today if a beggar just walked up to your door on October 31st and just started asking for food or money. You would likely shut the door in their face. That is what I would do.

  • Lin,Edwin-rod
    10/28/2019 - 01:18 p.m.

    The thing that I found is the most surprising is that the adults back in the middle ages would dress up and walk door to door and beg for food because imagine you hear knock on your door and you open it expecting for a kid, but then some dude starts begging for food.

    -The Asian/ Edwin out

  • DyquanD-bad
    10/29/2019 - 11:15 a.m.

    The most surprising is that the British would really try to turn off there lights to seem there not home to throw off the festive attitude shocked me as why shouldn’t they celebrate i

  • DaVareyS-bad
    10/29/2019 - 11:48 a.m.

    The part of history I found most surprising was how not many people realize the true meaning of Halloween. Halloween wasn't supposed to be getting candy from others but to celebrate the end of the year by dressing up as an evil spirit. This was a lot different than it would be today.

  • Sanders,Clayton-rod
    10/29/2019 - 01:22 p.m.

    The part i thought was most surprising that people in europe would go door to door for food i thought ever in europe would have some food or like something eat that night it's kind where now if you do it because know one does that anymore


  • Bentley,Zakiyah-rod
    10/29/2019 - 01:45 p.m.

    I think the strangest part of trick or treating history is that in Celtic tradition, they celebrated the end of the year by dressing up as evil spirits. honestly, even if I'm not the biggest fan of Halloween, that is pretty cool! But for some strange, incomprehensible, reason, the fact that they CELEBRATED Halloween by dressing up as evil beings confuses me. why would you want to pretend to be something that brings misfortune, death, and bad luck? I mean, we celebrate too. but not like that. we just dress up in general, though some people do dress up as "evil" things. I just find it a bit strange is all.

  • AnnieP-lam1
    11/07/2019 - 09:52 a.m.

    I find it interesting that Halloween started out so long ago but just grew over time. It also intrigues me that Trick or Treating was one of the last advancements because it seems like the most known part of Halloween other than dressing up.

  • KayleeE-lam
    11/07/2019 - 09:52 a.m.

    I think it is very interesting that Halloween has developed so much over the years. It is very strange that they started out by begging for food and water, and trying to blend in with evil spirits to kids all over dressing up for candy to have a good time. This article was very interesting. And it is very surprising to see that the British are not fans of Halloween.

  • LilliC-lam
    11/07/2019 - 09:52 a.m.

    I think that the part of Halloween's history (that I found most surprising) was the fact that poor Americans went around, with their children. And begged at peoples door for food and money. (In exchange for prayers and songs.) This really surprises me, I never knew that was the beginning of the now-tradition on every October 31st, Trick-Or-Treating!

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