Date Published 01 October 2021
Halloween is a time for candy, costumes, and the Charlie Brown cartoon special, but how did it become this way? Why are children and teens encouraged to run around the neighbourhood threatening tricks? Jack-o'-lanterns are a pretty strange concept, but historically, strangers giving you candy was supposed to be a bad thing.
Halloween's origins come from a Celtic festival for the dead called Samhain. Celts believed the ghosts of the dead roamed Earth on thon is a holiday, so people would dress in costumes and leave treats out their front doors to appease the roaming spirits. Most experts trace trick-or-treating to the European practice of "mumming," or "guysing," in which costume-wearing participants would go door to door performing choreographed dances, songs, and plays in exchange for treats. According to Elizabeth Pleck's "Celebrating The Family," the tradition cropped up in America, where it would often take place on Thanksgiving.
In some early versions of trick-or-treating, men paraded door to door, and boys often followed, begging for coins. Most of these early trick or treaters were poor and actually needed the money, but wealthy children also joined in the fun. Door-to-door begging was mostly stopped in the 1930s, but re-emerged later in the century to distract kids from pulling Halloween pranks.