Halloween Countdown with Molly Weir: Day 10

Oct. 10
I have received some feedback from readers that they thoroughly enjoyed the history of Halloween and I also enjoyed writing it. With this being said, t his article will be about the history of trick or treating. 

The exact origins of trick or treating are difficult to find but it is believed that it originated in Celtic festivals and early Roman Catholic holidays. By the ninth century, the spread of Christianity had moved into Celtic Lands and eventually took over. Around the year 1000 A.D, Nov. 2 was named “All Souls’ Day” and the purpose was the honor the dead. The unique way they would celebrate this holiday was shown through poor people visiting wealthier families and they would receive soul cakes in exchange for a prayer for the souls of the homeowners’ dead relatives. This term was coined as “souling”. As time went on with this tradition, it shifted to children going door to door asking for gifts, food and money.  

In Scotland and Ireland, they had a similar tradition called “guising”. The difference was when the children went to various households, they would sing, recite a poem or tell a joke. 

Moving to the United States in the 20th century, Irish and Scottish immigrants brought over the traditions of souling and guising. However, many young people had altered the tradition to add pranks or tricks. 

During the 1930s, excessive pranks on Halloween led to a community based trick or treating. However, this tradition stopped for a while due to World War II and the lack of sugar for candy and treats. 

When the war ended, trick or treating began once again. The access to sugar and candy became easy to access and candy companies were booming. This tradition still stands today and it is estimated that Americans spend around $2.6 billion on Halloween candy. 

While kids have an amazing time trick or treating, who knew that it could have such a rich and old history? 

Until next time, have a spooky day!

Painting of men “souling” in the ninth century, courtesy of Wikimedia.

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