Having children dress up in costume and go door-to-door like little beggars demanding treats is kind of weird. Like several other Halloween activities, the tradition can be traced back to the Middle Ages and the rituals of Samhain. It was believed that ghosts and spirits walked the Earth on the night of Samhain, so people would dress up as spirits themselves in an effort to fool the real deal into thinking they were one and the same.
This act was called “guising.” As the Catholic Church started supplanting pagan festivals with their own holidays (like All Saints’ Day), the act of guising became popular and poor children and adults would go door to door dressed as angels or spirits on Hallowmas begging for food or money in exchange for songs and prayers. This was called “souling.” The earliest known reference to the phrase “trick-or-treat” in North America is from 1927 in Alberta, Canada.
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Words of Wisdom:
I don’t know that there are real ghosts and goblins, But there are always more trick-or-treaters than neighborhood kids. -Robert Breault