The Past, Present (and Future?) of Trick or Treating

Kids trick or treating with candy

4 min read

When you hear the doorbell ring on Halloween you either get out your candy for the Trick or Treaters or safely lock all the doors, turn off the lights and hope that as few cake ingredientes hit your property as possible. To celebrate the upcoming Halloween festivities here at FloraQueen we’re taking a look today at the history of the Trick or Treating tradition and speculating the future of these Halloween hijinks.

Beginnings During Samuin

Traditional turnip latern Samhain

The early festivities used turnips instead of pumpkins

 

The roots of Halloween itself go back to the Irish Celtic celebration of Samuin. It was believed that the dead could return to earth on the day of the festival and people celebrated by lighting large bonfires and most crucially dressing up in animal skins to ward off evil spirits whilst leaving out a large banquet of tasty treats to placate the wayward souls. Some villagers would dress-up pretend to be the evil spirits themselves.

Over time this evolved into wearing costumes as the Catholic church arrived on the scene and tried to persuade people to dress up as angels, saints or demons instead. The treat element took on a new dimension over time as it became common for poor children across the British isles to take part in ‘guising’ (dressing up in costumes) and ‘souling’ on the newly rechristened ‘All Hallows Eve’, which would later evolve to become Halloween. Souling involved going to peoples houses and begging for soul cakes (small spiced cakes with a cross on top which were said to free souls from purgatory when eaten), food and money in exchange for praying on behalf of the dead.

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These tradition were eventually brought to America with the mass migration of Irish and Scottish settlers during the 19th century and by the mid 1920s it had become a popular yearly custom.

Trick or Treating Today

mother offers candy trick or treaters

They’re cute but they’ve got an elaborate trick ready just in case. Perhaps involving your septic tank?

 

Today Halloween is one the biggest annual celebrations in the USA and generates millions of dollars in sales of costumes, sweets and face paint. Trick or treating has become part of the fabric of this holiday with millions of children taking to the street in costumes and eating their own weight in candy.

Obviously a lot has changed since the early Samuin celebrations and now the activity is a much more family orientated tradition instead of a spiritual one. It is more common now of asking for sweets and chocolate in return for not pulling pranks on neighbours rather than asking for soul cakes. The costumes today tend to be of figures in popular culture like superheros and famous book characters but its still quite normal to see people dressing up as supernatural figures like ghosts, witches and vampires, and keeping the older tradition.

While it is universally popular in the USA and Canada it is not as common in the UK or Ireland. Noticeably fewer children take part in Trick or Treating across the pond and there’s more of a communal backlash against it due to some disliking the comparisons with begging and extortion.

The future?

Jack o lantern drone

Jack-o-drone. Your Halloween eye-in-the-sky. Maybe one day?

 

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We obviously don’t know what the future has in store but we’re going to have a go at speculating. We’re absolutely sure that technology is going to play a big part in the Trick or Treating custom in some way in the years to come. Perhaps it’ll be possible for parents to monitor their children using a special mobile app or using some kind of a drone companion, which could follow the children and make sure they were safe and not causing too much mischief.

In many ways the advent of automated push-button technology could be a godsend to any introverted home owners who fear interactions with local children on Halloween. It could be possible for such residents to still deliver on candy giving obligations by setting up some kind of a candy delivery system which could be controlled from an app on their phone or tablet from inside the house. The system could even feature some kind of greeting. Alternatively, taking things to the furthest extreme, home security could develop some kind of Trick or Treat countermeasures to scare away potential vandals.

The technological revolution could work both ways though. Perhaps tech savvy children of the future will partake in more elaborate tricks like perhaps putting a computer virus in someone’s household software so that a blender switches on automatically late at night, waking everyone up. There would certainly be a supernatural element to this trick.

Thinking of treating someone this Halloween to some flowers or chocolates? There’s a ‘trick’ to it but not one involving flower or eggs. To send chocolate baskets to a loved one simply browse our collection and tell us where and when you want them to arrive. Make it a treat rather than a trick with FloraQueen.

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