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trick or treating, pumpkin,

Happy Halloween the Legend of Trick or Treating

From soul cakes to Candy…

Oh how I loved trick or treating as a kid, and clearly I’m not alone. Every year millions of children dressed from princesses to pirates and everything in between, flood their neighborhoods with one goal in mind -he who gets the most candy wins. We love this tradition, in fact we love it so much that even as adults we haven’t abandoned the idea of dressing up and asking for treats, (except our treats generally come in the form of a cocktail glass). So, where did this multi-billion dollar enterprise come from anyway?

Near the 1840’s, much like many other American traditions, the tradition of Halloween was brought over by Irish immigrants. In Ireland, the tradition is much, much older. Halloween was actually Samhain, the end of summer and the beginning of the Celtic New Year.

Trick or treaters
Trick or treaters

It was believed that on this day of October 31, the dead were on a mission to possess the living. So, in an effort to ward off evil, people would dress in ghoulish costumes and make frightening noises.

In Scotland, dressing up has been dated back as far as the 1800’s and has ties to the legend of Stringy Jack.

A child sitting next to a loved one that has passed
A child sitting next to a loved one that has passed

So Where did Trick or Treating Come from?

The idea of trick or treating came from the 9th century practice of ‘souling’. On November 2, All Souls Day, Christian children would walk the streets in their village singing and saying prayers for the dead in return for ‘soul cakes’ (not like the space cakes in Amsterdam), these were made from breads and currants.

When a loved one was deceased, people would offer prayers to get their souls to Heaven as quickly as possible. The more prayers that were given, the more soul cakes they received. Sound familiar; he who has the most cakes wins. Thus, trick or treating.


trick or treating, halloween candy


Halloween and trick or treating came together much like many traditions have in North America, Ireland and the UK, with a clash of Celtic and Christian traditions. However, the tradition of trick or treating has only been in the United States since 1940 when it began in Minnesota!


Interesting fact:

Day of the Dead vacation, Xcaret, Mexico, dia de los muertos, altarIn Mexico children get treats in a similar fashion called calaverita, “little skull”. The children ask “¿me da mi calaverita?”, can you give me my little skull? These are usually made of sugar or chocolate. This is known to be done during the “Festival of the Dead” or “Dia de Los Muertos” like this photo I took at Xcaret Park.

Want to know more about the Jack-O-Lantern? Click here!


The Little Fairytale Traveler last Halloween 2012
The Little Fairytale Traveler last Halloween 2012

Christa Thompson

Christa Thompson is the Founder and Chief Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. She started traveling the world in 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

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