From the first time my mom placed a white sheet over my head (as I channeled the spookiest ghost on the block) and held my hand around the dimly lit neighborhood, I've loved Halloween. Free candy and costumes? Yes, please. Now that I'm older, though, it's hard not to wonder, why do we give out candy on Halloween?
If you think about Halloween for what it is — a day where children dress up in costumes and walk door to door for candy — it does seem pretty random. In fact, it's so random that different practices for Halloween occur all over the world. Seriously, there are laws specific to Halloween depending on what country or state you happen to be in. Of course, I'm not complaining, but who doesn't like a good backstory to one of the most nostalgic, sweetest holidays of the year? You know, just an explanation as to why we celebrate such an interesting holiday. Clearly, these traditions are deeply rooted to a semi-unearthed past. While I'm sure there have been an incredible amount of add-ons to Halloween over the years, at least in America, there has to be some starting point.
The Backstory Of Trick-Or-Treating
The traditions of Halloween date back nearly 2,000 years ago to the Celtic festival called Samhain. It started the eve of Oct. 31, as people Ireland, the UK, and parts of France set up bonfires and gave other offerings to honor people who passed on. It was believed that at this time, the dead would ascend back to this world. OK, I know what you're thinking — what the heck does this have to do with candy? Don't worry, we are getting there.
It turns out that as the holiday evolved over the years, villagers started attending the festival in costumes derived from animal skins. As even more time passed, the costumes started resembling demons and ghosts. Along with this costume pivot, people began acting out jokes (or tricks, if you will) in exchange for beverages and food. Sound familiar? A trick for a treat. Now, there isn't any concrete evidence that this is where the term "trick-or-treating" came from, but the phrase was first featured in America in 1951 in a Peanuts comic strip.
How We Interpret Halloween Today
It's important to not forget where you come from, and Halloween has definitely kept some of its most notoriously admirable qualities today. If you think about it, we have it way easier than back in the day. Out of the thousands of times I have said "trick or treat" in my life, I have never delivered on that trick part. Honestly though, what would I even do at a random stranger's doorstep?
The costumes have become filled with gore, sexiness, and cleverness. It's safe to say that America has added its own flair when interpreting Halloween. From the way we parade the streets, enter costume contests, and simply live it up, we certainly use Halloween as a time to celebrate. We also have to remember how rowdy people can get on Halloween as well. Seriously, it's always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings and stick with your pack.
All in all, Halloween can never be outgrown. It's a universal holiday that has filled our pillowcases and memories with many sweet things, practically every year. And as much as we have put our own spin on it, we are here for its evolution. We look forward to making the dark day our own, one spook at a time.
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