Halloween is fast approaching, which means it’s time for costumes, candy, and trick-or-treating. It’s likely that we have all been trick-or-treating at some point in our lives, whether we were the kids going door to door, or the adults passing out treats. But do you know where the tradition of trick-or-treating came from?
Halloween can be traced back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, which was celebrated on October 31. The Celts lived in what is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, some 2,000 years ago. They believed that on the night of October 31, the ghosts of the dead returned to Earth, so people would gather to light bonfires and offer sacrifices to honor the deceased. Some villagers would even dress like ghosts and demons and perform tricks in exchange for food or drinks. This practice was called mumming, and is thought to be a precursor to trick-or-treating.
In England in 1000 A.D., All Souls’ Day (November 2) celebrations involved an act called souling. Poor people would visit the homes of wealthier families and receive pastries called soul cakes in exchange for a promise of prayer for the souls of their deceased relatives. Later, children adopted this tradition and would go door to door asking for gifts like food or money. Souling is also believed to be an earlier form of trick-or-treating.
In Scotland and Ireland, they had guising. Young people would dress up in costume and visit different households to sing a song, recite a poem, or tell a joke. This was their way of performing a “trick” before they received treats, such as fruit, nuts or coins.
Yet another example is the British tradition of celebrating Guy Fawkes Night (or Bonfire Night). This night celebrates the prevention of the Gunpowder Plot, which was an attempt to blow up the parliament. Fawkes was one of the conspirators that was caught and executed on November 5, 1606. On that day, children wear masks, carry effigies, and beg for pennies.
The popularity of Halloween was spurred by the influx of new immigrants to the US in the mid 19th century. In the early 20th century, Irish and Scottish communities began souling and guising in the US. But it wasn’t until decades later that trick-or-treating became the standard practice for celebrating Halloween.
This Halloween, rather than tricking you, we’d like to treat you! Visit us on Saturday October 31, 2015 for some yummy sandwiches and we’ll treat you to a free Pistachio cookie! We’ll be open from 10:30am-4:30pm so you can fuel up before you go trick-or-treating. Visit our Promotions page to learn more about our Halloween special and our other promotions.