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The History of Trick-or-Treating

History-buff fun here -

Trick-or-Treating = we've all done it! We have all passed out candy, taken candy, wanted to play a trick and ended up wanting a treat. Having a young daughter brings fun to this time of year. I get to walk around the neighborhood with her and see the excitement and joy on her face when she gets to go trick-or-treating. Best part, I get to 'make sure the candy is safe' haha - big thanks to my parents for teaching me that!!

So, I wanted to know some origins of this crazy thing we do in the USA. I found out that some American colonists celebrated Guy Fawkes Day, and in the mid-19th century, large numbers of new immigrants, especially those fleeing the Irish Potato Famine in the 1840s, helped popularize Halloween. 

In the early 20th century, Irish and Scottish communities revived the Old World traditions of souling and guising in the United States. By the 1920s, however, pranks had become the Halloween activity of choice for rowdy young people. 

The Great Depression exacerbated the problem, with Halloween mischief often devolving into vandalism, physical assaults and sporadic acts of violence. One theory suggests that excessive pranks on Halloween led to the widespread adoption of an organized, community-based trick-or-treating tradition in the 1930s. This trend was

abruptly curtailed, however, with the outbreak of WW2, when sugar rationing meant there were few treats to hand out. At the height of the postwar baby boom, trick-or-treating reclaimed its plac

e among other Halloween customs. It quickly became standard practice for millions of children in America’s cities and newly built suburbs. No longer constrained by sugar rationing, candy companies capitalized on the lucrative ritual, launching national advertising campaigns

specifically aimed at Halloween. 

Today, Americans spend an estimated $2.6 billion on candy on Halloween, and the day, itself, has become the nation’s second-largest commercial holiday.

*On the original Guy Fawkes Day, celebrated immediately after the famous plotter’s execution, communal bonfires, or “bone fires,” were lit to burn effigies and the symbolic “bones” of the Catholic pope. By the early 19th century, children bearing effigies of Fawkes were roaming the streets on the evening of November 5, asking for “a penny for the Guy.”

**Did you know? Although it is unknown precisely where and when the phrase “trick or treat” was coined, the custom had been firmly established in American popular culture by 1951, when trick-or-treating was depicted in the Peanuts comic strip. In 1952, Disney produced a cartoon called “Trick or Treat” featuring Donald Duck and his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie.

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