The Weird History of Trick-or-Treating

Trick-or-treating is a Halloween tradition that nearly every child across the country looks forward to. Halloween is the one night of the year a kid can dress up as anything they want, roam around the neighborhood at night with their friends, and return home with a big bag of goodies.

We’re all familiar with this timeless tradition, but how and where did it begin? Here’s a glimpse into the weird history of trick-or-treating.

Samhain Origins

Trick-or-treating may have origins dating back thousands of years ago. The Celtic festival, Samhain, historically marks the end of the harvest season and the slow descent into winter. But this ancient festival may have also inspired trick-or-treating as we know it today.

During Samhain, Celtic villagers would dress themselves in masks and animal skins to ward off demons and spirits rising from the dead. It was believed that the real demons would be confused by their costumes and leave them alone instead of harming them. Some poor Celtic villagers would dress up and go door-to-door, exchanging songs and prayer in hopes of food and other goods.

All Saint’s Day

Later, the Catholic church began adopting and reforming all of the existing holidays so that they better fit the Christian religion. Eventually, Halloween became “All Saints Day” where people were encouraged to dress as saints, angels, and even some demons. This led to the mixture of both evil and happy costumes that we see today.

The tradition of trick-or-treating eventually took on a new form, known as “souling.” During All Saints Day, “soulers” would visit the homes of the wealthy townspeople and sing for cakes, also known as “soul cakes.”

The tradition of “souling” also occurred in Ireland and Scotland, but was instead referred to as “guising.” It consisted of children singing songs or offering other deeds in exchange for nuts, coins, and other household goods.

20th-Century Trick-or-Treating

When immigrants fled the potato famine in the late 19th Century, the tradition of “souling” and “guising” made its way over to the American colonies. These immigrants helped popularize Halloween in the United States; however, by the 1920’s, rowdy children and adolescents began using Halloween as an opportunity to pull pranks and cause damage. The pranks became so notorious that eventually, communities began implementing the nationwide tradition of trick-or -treating in hopes of putting an end to the craziness.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a little, old-fashioned Halloween fun. But if you’re going to go trick-or-treating this Halloween, make sure you’re following the proper Halloween etiquette so everyone around you has a fun time.

During World War II, the sugar ration led to families refraining from trick-or-treating for a few years. Eventually, though, the tradition returned and is now back with a vengeance.

Understanding the History of Trick-or-Treating

Trick-or-treating is one of the many fun Halloween traditions the entire family can enjoy. Now that you understand the history of trick-or-treating, what will you do to celebrate this Halloween season?

Even if you don’t have kids to take out on Halloween, there’s still plenty you can do to get into the spooky holiday spirit. If you’re looking to start a new Halloween tradition this year, buy your tickets to Cutting Edge Haunted House today! There’s plenty of opportunity to dress up, have fun with friends, and brave all the scares lurking around every corner.