The True History of Trick or Treating Is More Bizarre Than You Could Ever Have Imagined

By October 18, 2017 History, Other, Rabbit Hole, Video

Here in the United States Halloween is a huge holiday. Most people adore it and love everything surrounding it. However, not everyone knows the origins of it or the traditions that make it up.

My most favorite part of Halloween is trick-or-treating. Ever since I was a small child going out dressed in costume ready to get my treats was the highlight of my year. I remember my most favorite Halloween was when I was quite young, around seven or so and my brother and I both dressed up in Scream masks. We wore plain black sweatshirts and sweatpants, matching his Scream mask was white and mine was red. Halloween for us was a memory making experience like nothing else.

While I will touch on Halloween, in general, this article is going to focus around trick-or-treating itself. Now, if for some reason you don’t know what trick-or-treating is, it is going from house to house and reciting the statement ‘trick or treat.’ Once you say that the person at the door gives you candy. The United States, as well as other countries (there are many who do not celebrate Halloween), have been doing this for quite some time.

Halloween is deeply rooted in the ancient, pre-Christian Celtic festival known as the Samhain. This was celebrated on the night of October 31st as Halloween is now. According to legend, the Celts believed that the dead returned to Earth on Samhain. People would gather to light bonfires and pay homage to the deceased, there were also sacrifices.

No one knows for sure where the phrase ‘trick-or-treating’ came into play, but we do know what it was based after. During the Samhain, villagers would wear disguises made of animal skins and other things of the sort. This was in an attempt to drive away unwanted otherworldly visitors and ‘treats’ were placed on banquet tables as well as offerings. This as time went on mashed with other things progressed into souling around the 19th century.

Souling according to came about as follows:

Christianity had spread into Celtic lands, where it gradually blended with and supplanted older pagan rites. In 1000 A.D. the church designated November 2 as All Souls’ Day, a time for honoring the dead. Celebrations in England resembled Celtic commemorations of Samhain, complete with bonfires and masquerades. Poor people would visit the houses of wealthier families and receive pastries called soul cakes in exchange for a promise to pray for the souls of the homeowners’ dead relatives. Known as souling, the practice was later taken up by children, who would go from door to door asking for gifts such as food, money, and ale.

This of course through time continued to progress, and it is now today what we call trick-or-treating. Trick-or-treating did disappear in the US during the great depression, but around the 30s it made its way back full fling. In modern times candy is a HUGE part of Halloween. Here in the US alone, we spend billions on Halloween in general each year.

Why People are scared that their Halloween Candy is being poisoned:

With that being said, somehow here in the US while we spend tons of candy and adore trick-or-treating still live in fear that our Halloween candy is being poisoned. Paranoia actually spiked in regards to this back in the 1980s and hasn’t let up since. You see back then there had been an incident of cyanide-laced tylenol actually making its way to stores. These ‘tylenol murders’ are still unsolved even today. This is a bit outlandish to be honest, but it does happen. People do poison Halloween candy sometimes.

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The most infamous Halloween poisoning took place on October 31, 1974. That’s when a Texas man named Ronald O’Bryan gave cyanide-laced pixie sticks to five children, including his son. The other children never ate the candy, but his eight-year-old son, Timothy, did—and died soon after.

With more people celebrating Halloween now than ever, the National Retail Federation predicts our Halloween spending to reach 9.1 Billion dollars. An estimated 95 percent of this is candy alone. According to the NRF, we spend an estimated average of about 86 dollars per person. Isn’t that insane? That is more than enough to tell you how much the US really does LOVE Halloween, even if we are a bit terrified at the thought of poison candy.

But, all of the trick-or-treating and mass spending aside Halloween is a truly wonderful experience whether you go out and do something fun or stay in watching spooky movies. There is a lot of positivity surrounding this night and I for one don’t think I could ever give it up. What about Halloween draws you in? Let us know!

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