The ‘Ghostly’ (Hi)Story of Trick-or-Treating

Have you started stocking up on candy to hand out to the trick-or-treaters this Halloween? While trick-or-treating seems like it’s been around forever, it is actually a fairly recent American custom. But it does have its roots in centuries old celebrations and customs from across the pond!

Origins of Trick-or-Treating
Historians trace Halloween’s origins back thousands of years ago to the Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts believed that dead returned to earth on October 31st. They would light fires and offer fruit, vegetable and animal sacrifices to the dead on this day.

Centuries later, people began dressing in costumes such as ghosts and demons and preformed ‘tricks’ in exchange for food and drink. This practice was known as ‘mumming’ and is likely one of the earliest examples of modern-day trick-or-treating.

As the years progressed, similar customs popped up all around Europe. In England, poor people would go to the doors of the wealthy and offer to pray for their dead loved ones in exchange for soul cakes. And in Scotland and Ireland, young people would dress up in costumes and do some sort of trick, such as singing, for treats such as food, drink or money.

Today’s Halloween
European immigrants brought a lot of these traditions to the U.S. and the modern version of Halloween began to take shape. But, it wasn’t until the 1940s where trick-or-treating, as we know it today, became a common practice across the country. You read that right: today’s Halloween isn’t even100 years old!

While dressing up, ringing door bells, and asking for candy is beloved by many, it can encourage unhealthy choices – mainly eating too much sugar. But there are some “tricks” to making Halloween safe and healthy. Check out our ghoulishly-good Halloween health and safety tips .

What are your family’s traditions on Halloween? Tell us about your special treats in the comments.

Source: History Channel, Library of Congress

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