The best part of Halloween by far is the candy.
If you’re young and hungry for those sweets, obviously the best way to get them is to go trick-or-treating
But, have you ever wondered who created this prestigious celebration (still not a federal holiday, but whatever) and who decided to add trick-or-treating to the mix.
One spooky night…
Halloween derives from the three-day Celtic festival Samhain. The Celts believed the dead would return on Earth at the end of the harvest season (Oct. 31) and decided to honor them. The “villagers disguised themselves in costumes made of animal skins to drive away phantom visitors; banquet tables were prepared and edible offerings were out to placate unwelcome spirits,” states . Celts knew how to throw the ultimate Halloween bash.
So that’s where Halloween originates, but what about trick-or-treating?
‘Trick or Treat’ went by many names
The first appearance of trick-or-treating had people dressing up in exchange for food and drinks which was known as “mumming” in the Middle Ages. However, in the 9th century, the term changed to “souling” for All Souls’ Day every year on Nov. 2.
According to Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night, “souling” was when poor people visited wealthy families’ homes and received pastries like ‘soul cakes’ in exchange for prayers and songs. “The idea being that, if you prayed hard enough, you would help them get to heaven,” the author Nicholas Rogers told CBC News.
The term “guising” became popular in Ireland and Scotland in the 16th century. Young people had to perform a song, recite a poem, tell a joke or other ‘tricks’ in order to receive their treats. But overall, many of these exchanges were paying homage to the dead.
So essentially, the people in the past had to work for free food and gifts. Honestly, children today can’t complain anymore about receiving Tootsie Rolls in their bag.
People didn’t ask or received candy, whaaaat?
In the 9th century, people were asking for food, money and ale. While according to The History Channel, the 16th century brought in fruit, nuts and coins.
Seriously, what happened between the 9th and 16th century and why did people stop asking for money on Halloween?
While the tradition of receiving pastries and coins moved to the United States, it wasn’t until the 1950s that candy became more popular. According to History, parents feared strangers will tamper with treats that weren’t store brought or sealed. Candy became more convenient and affordable.
Honestly, we’re not complaining. It’s easier to hand out small packets of Kit Kats than pieces of apple crumb cake.
So how in the hell did it become so popular?
In the mid 19th century, the American colonists and immigrants popularized Halloween. The Irish and Scottish brought their old traditions of ‘souling’ and ‘guising’ to the United States.
But according to Today I Found Out, the phrase “trick-or-treat” dates back to Nov. 4, 1927 from a Canadian newspaper Herald story: “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 United States didn’t start using the terms until the 1930s. However, according to Dictionary.com, by the 1950s, the practice of trick-or-treating was shown in popular culture in shows like Ozzie and Harriet and in print like a Peanuts comic strip.
So in conclusion…
Yes, Halloween is cool. And so is trick-or-treating, no matter what side of the door you’re on.
It’s always interesting to uncover the real reason these strange yearly traditions exist. So indulge on your discounted post-Halloween treats and reminisce on the good times trick-or-treating brought you.
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