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. They ring doorbells and 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 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. Demons would roam the earth again. Dressing up as demons was a defense mechanism. 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." They 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, they began in the Middle Ages. Children and sometimes poor adults would dress up in the aforementioned costumes and go around door to door during Hallowmas. They'd beg for food or money in exchange for songs and prayers, often said on behalf of the dead.  This was called "souling." 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 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 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. 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 (26)
  • SydneyRG-lam
    11/07/2019 - 09:46 a.m.

    It is surprising that over half the people in Britain fake not being home.

  • GammaB-der
    11/08/2019 - 02:44 p.m.

    I already knew most of this but still cool anyway.

  • DanielD-der
    11/08/2019 - 02:50 p.m.

    I found that the British people don't like Halloween.For example, the text states,"In 2006 a survey found that over half of British home owners turn off their lights. They pretend not to be home on Halloween." Also, the British don't give out candy.

  • AnnikaP-der
    11/08/2019 - 02:51 p.m.

    The most surprising part about the history of trick or treating to me is the fact that the British loath Halloween. The text states: "over half of British hometowners turn off their lights and pretend they are not home." I do not understand this because Halloween is a fun holiday were children dress up in fun costumes from there favorite movies or TV show or a spooky ghost, witch, zombie, or skeleton and they go around asking for something sweet. Halloween is also a great time to host parties or get together with friends. And last Halloween is a great time to meet new people around your Neighborhood. This is why I don't understand why the British hate Halloween so much.

  • MasonM-der1
    11/08/2019 - 02:53 p.m.

    I thought that the British not liking Halloween interesting. It is interesting because the text states, "In 2006, a survey found that over half of British homeowners turn off their lights. They pretend not to be home on Halloween." Which makes me think why would they be sitting in their house with the lights off instead of making it more fun for everyone else cause they can get more candy and you dressing up and walking around trying to get candy. As you can see, more British people should celebrate Halloween.

  • ChristianS-der
    11/08/2019 - 02:53 p.m.

    I Found out that British people do not like Halloween and turn off lights when kids nock on their door. The text sates,"The British hate Halloween, apparently. In 2006, a survey found that over half of British homeowners turn off their lights. They pretend not to be home on Halloween." They also don't give out candy.

  • ClaudiaC-der1
    11/08/2019 - 02:54 p.m.

    I think a surprising part of trick or treating is how they used to dress up as demons to hide from the demons. I think that that this is the most surprising thing because it is surprising how you would think that demons are roaming the earth and to hide from the demons you would dress up as them. The text states, "Dressing up as demons was a defence mechaniom." That is the past that I find the most surprising.

  • EmelyJ-der
    11/08/2019 - 02:57 p.m.

    I found the British hating Halloween interesting. "The British hate Halloween, apparently. In 2006, a survey found that over half of British homeowners turn off their lights". So I thought that was interesting because I thought the British liked Halloween because the British seem like friendly people that would celebrate Halloween. so that's why I thought this was interesting.

  • AnnaL-der
    11/08/2019 - 02:58 p.m.

    What I found out most inserting in the article is when children and poor go out and ask for food and money. In the text it states, "They'd beg for food or money in exchange for songs and prayers, often said on behalf of the dead ." It inserting because no we just go to houses and get only candy for Halloween!

  • EmilyC-der
    11/08/2019 - 02:58 p.m.

    I found the article interesting because this article says that the British hates Halloween. The text states, "The British hate Halloween, apparently. In 2006, a survey found that over half of British homeowners turn off their lights. They pretend not to be home on Halloween." I think it is weird because Halloween doesn't work the same way for the British.

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