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. Children get into costume and walk around the neighborhood. They ring doorbells. They beg for treats. When you think about it, trick or treating is kind of a weird thing. Where did it come from anyway?

Today I Found Out discovered that the practice began with a Celtic tradition. It celebrated the end of the year by dressing up as evil spirits. Here is what the Celts believed. As we move from one year to the next, the dead and the living would overlap. Demons would roam the earth again. Dressing up as demons was a defense mechanism. You might encounter a real demon roaming the Earth. If you were dressed up they would think you were one of them.

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

As for the trick or treating, or "guising" (from "disguising"), traditions, they began in the Middle Ages. Children would dress up in the aforementioned costumes. Sometimes poor adults did too.  They would go around door to door during Hallowmas. They'd beg for food or money. This was in exchange for songs and prayers. They were often said on behalf of the dead.  This was called "souling." The children were called "soulers".

You might think that this practice then simply moved along with Europeans to the United States. But trick or treating didn't re-emerge until the 1920s and 1930s.  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" was printed on November 4, 1927. It was in an edition of the Blackie, Alberta Canada Herald.

"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. They used the word "trick or treat." To which the inmates gladly responded and sent the robbers away rejoicing."

The British hate Halloween. That's according to a 2006 survey. It found that over half of British homeowners turn off their lights. They 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 (63)
  • Dane D-kla
    10/28/2019 - 09:00 a.m.

    The british didn't like holowen and the frasie trick or treat has been said since 1927.

    • Keegan F-kla
      10/28/2019 - 10:53 a.m.

      i thought that was interesting to dane

  • OhS-bad
    10/28/2019 - 09:16 a.m.

    Yes i find interesting because I learned it but never celebrated it

  • ZawZ-bad
    10/28/2019 - 09:18 a.m.

    The history of trick or treating is weird but also scary like people just knock on your door at night ask for candy in a scary not usual costume like a super hero or a witch.People now a days wear famous every people costume like marshmallow or James Charles.almost every is weird on this holiday and some people decorate their porch to far!

  • HamasarA-bad
    10/28/2019 - 09:19 a.m.

    Halloween is a holiday celebrated each year on October 31, and Halloween 2019 occurs on Thursday, October 31. The tradition originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. ... The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween.

  • AzzerioS-bad
    10/28/2019 - 09:20 a.m.

    In the mideval times poor people use to knocked on doors and ask for food and money

  • AhZeeM-bad
    10/28/2019 - 09:20 a.m.

    The part that i most fine that is interesting is when they how Halloween.

  • HaB-bad
    10/28/2019 - 09:20 a.m.

    The most surprising thing was when brits turn off there lights and pretend that they are not home but they really are.

  • WinYaS-bad
    10/28/2019 - 09:22 a.m.

    How old people act like child’s and ask for candy.

  • DalaishaD-bad
    10/28/2019 - 09:23 a.m.

    The part of history that i found most surprising is the part when the catholic church’s was stealing everybody holidays, this part was surprising because I’ve never knew that catholic church’s was so mean like to the point that they wanted no holidays for people.

  • SaJarN-bad
    10/28/2019 - 09:23 a.m.

    I think the part that British hate Halloween was suprising because who hates Halloween.

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