The History of Halloween Trick-or-Treating
Spooks and goblins, or trick or treating, goes back to the 7th or 8th century BC. The change of season from summer to winter was celebrated by the Celts with the Samhain festival, a pagan worship celebration marking the change in the season from summer to winter. The Celts paid worship to pagan gods by giving thanks and sacrifice. Out of fear of the power of the gods, the worshipers wore disguises and masks to remain unidentifiable hoping to chase away spirits and avoid any trickery the gods might inflict upon them. As it was believed that the souls of the dead roamed the earth during this time of the year, the Celts left food for them hoping to appease them and keep them from haunting the living. In the 8th century AD, All Saint's Day which was celebrated by Christians was merged with the observance of Samhain to create one holiday. Protestants opposed the holiday believing it was too pagan, while the Irish immigrants to the United States in the 19th century contributed to culture with their enthusiasm for wearing costumes to celebrate. Today Halloween has evolved into a secular tradition filled with costumes, decorations, themes of horror and death, spirits, cute and scary pumpkins, trick-or-treating, and parties for all ages. For the more spiritual, those who attend church recognize Halloween as a "hallowed eve", or a holy night before the celebration of the remembrance of the dead. All Soul's Day on November 1, to remember those who have died, and All Saints Day, on November 2 to honor the saints in heaven.
The Halloween holiday has evolved the last century to one of giving treats rather than one of trickery. Observing the practice of giving treats or tricking people started as early as the 1920's in the United States. Children in disguises went in groups door-to-door asking for a trick or a treat. Tricking a homeowner would mean the group of children would do a prank on the homeowner's property or rob the homeowner. If the homeowner chose not to be tricked, the children received a treat. The goal was to end the evening having received many treats. By the 1950's trick-or-treating became an established custom for children to dress up and go door-to-door asking for tricks or treats. It wasn't until the 1970's that the phrase 'trick-or-treat' became official. Today children still go door-to-door in safe neighborhoods, while many local children's events offer group venues for children to safely go trick-or-treating. The tricks associated with the holiday can now be found at haunted houses and house parties with scary moments and surprises. For the most part, the holiday is one of dressing up in creative costumes and giving treats of candy and simple toy gifts to children. Adults also look forward to dressing up for holiday Halloween parties where they too can celebrate and enjoy food, candy, and spirited drinks.
As you get your costume together for you or your children this Halloween, don't forget to wear your mask and bring your hand sanitizer! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that standard costume masks may not be thick enough for COVID-19 disease control. It is also advised not to wear a mask under or over a costume mask as it could be too thick for breathing. The trick is taking time to adjust costume masks to comply with COVID-19 precautions to ensure it does not overly restrict breathing. Those planning to hand out candy should consider drive-by, drive-way tables where cars can line up to gather candy from. Outdoor scavenger hunts or other activities which maintain 6 feet of social distancing are also recommended. Don't be scared! Enjoy gobblin' candy and Happy Halloween!
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