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Why Do We Go Trick Or Treating?

posted by on September, 09, 2016 in Halloween tagged with Halloween

Every year on October 31st it's the same - people get dressed up in amazing Halloween costumes that get bigger and better every time, little children get very excited at the thought of going around their local neighbourhood trick or treating, pumpkin sales go through the roof...

But why exactly do we go trick or treating? Where did it all begin? The word itself comes from Hallowed Evening, which is the day before All Hallows Day, which you may also hear referred to as All Saints' Day. Some believe that the festival as we know it now originates from Samhain (or Summer's End), a Celtic pagan event that celebrates the end of the harvest.

It was thought that it was the one time of year when the divide between our world and the next becomes so small that spirits from the other side are able to make their way over to the present day, come back to life and wreak havoc on all the crops. To help keep them on side, places were set for them at the dinner table, with food and drink on offer.

As for trick or treating, the origins of this came from the 16th century in Britain, when people would go around their neighbourhoods dressed up asking for food in exchange for songs and poems - much like Christmas carollers, in fact! The Celts thought that if they dressed themselves up in white and blacked their faces up, they'd be able to fool the evil spirits that were coming over from the other side. Come the 11th century, this had evolved and the church adapted the tradition into something known as 'souling' - where children, dressed up as demons, angels or saints, would go from door to door asking for soul cakes in exchange for prayers for the souls of dead friends and relatives.

This then evolved into the tradition that we know and love today, with the phrase 'trick or treat' emerging in America in the 1920s thanks to immigrants bringing their traditions over from abroad.

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