The modern tradition of passing out candy to trick-or-treaters on Halloween is likely based on the medieval custom of "souling" on All Souls' Day. Early Christians made currant-topped desserts called "soul cakes" to honor their dead on All Souls' Day, and children would walk from house to house singing for the cakes. The children agreed to pray for the dead relatives of each person that gave them a soul cake.Continue Reading
Combining rituals of Roman Catholicism, Celtic harvest festivals and paganism, the modern Halloween is a celebration of both secular and religious traditions. Trick-or-treating became popular in the United States in the 1940s.
The custom of dressing up in costume can be attributed to the more recent Scottish and Irish practice of "guising." In the late-19th century celebrations of Halloween in Europe, Scottish and Irish children would go door-to-door wearing disguises and perform a song or tell a joke for food or money. Scottish and Irish immigrants then brought this tradition to North America.
The phrase "trick-or-treat" as used to playfully threaten vandalism on Halloween is thought to have been first used in Canada in 1927. In certain parts of Mexico, children participate in a similar tradition. Children travel from door to door saying calaverita, which means "little skull" and has the same effect as saying "trick or treat."Learn more about Cultures & Traditions
The word "Halloween" is a corruption of "All Hallows' Eve," the day before All Saints' Day, and it was initially a Catholic high feast day as well as a minor Celtic feast day. Medieval Catholics believed this was the night spirits were free to roam the earth.Full Answer >
Germans have only been celebrating Halloween since 1991, according to Spiegel, but they decorate with pumpkins, attend costume parties, visit allegedly haunted locations and, to a lesser extent, trick-or-treat. German Halloween celebrations are heavily influenced by media portrayals of the American holiday.Full Answer >
The tradition of Halloween tradition came from the Celtic people who lived in Europe more than 2000 years ago. Each year, the celebration began on the last day of October.Full Answer >
The tradition of dressing up for Halloween most likely comes from the Medieval practices of "mumming" and "going a-souling," which historically took place on All Saints Day and All Souls Day. Mumming meant dressing up in costumes, singing, dancing, play-acting and making other general mischief. Souling meant going door to door offering prayers for the dead in exchange for treats. Current Halloween customs are an amalgamation of traditions from Celtic, various pagan and Roman traditions.Full Answer >