Everything You Wanted to Know about History of Trick or Treating

Iris | 09 - 09 - 2021
history of trick or treating

Trick-or-treating, going out on Halloween night in costume and ringing doorbells to demand treats have been a long-standing tradition in the United States and other countries. Did you know where did trick or treat come from? Well, most of them don’t know the origin, but traces of it can be found in ancient Celtic festivals, early Roman Catholic holidays, medieval practices, and even British politics.

How Did Trick or Treat Originate?

It has been discovered that the trick or treat originated 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 collide, and demons would roam the earth again. As a result, dressing up as demons was a form of defense. If you came across a real demon roaming the Earth, they’d think you were one of them. 

Halloween derives from the pre-Christian Celtic festival of Samhain, which was held on the night of October 31. The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in what is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Northern France, believed that on Samhain, the dead returned to earth. People gathered on a sacred night to light bonfires, offer sacrifices, and pay homage to the dead.

When Did Trick or Treating Start?
  • A. 1930
  • B. 1932
  • C. 1934
  • D. 1936

When Did Trick or Treating Start?

Although it is unknown where and when the phrase “trick or treat” originated, the custom was well established in American popular culture by 1951, when it was depicted in the Peanuts comic strip. In 1952, Disney released the cartoon “Trick or Treat,” which starred Donald Duck and his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie.

In later centuries, people began dressing up as ghosts, demons, and other malevolent creatures, performing antics in exchange for food and drink. This practice, known as mumming, dates back to the Middle Ages and is thought to be the forerunner of trick-or-treating. You might think that this practice simply migrated to the United States with Europeans. However, trick-or-treating did not resurface until the 1920s and 1930s. During World War II, it took a break due to sugar rationing, but it is now back in full swing. 

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