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Halloween’s Haunted History: Why Do We Trick or Treat?

Halloween's Haunted History

The Halloween season is upon us. As we all set about finding the perfect costumes, stocking up on bags of candy for the kiddies, and spending our hard earned cash just to walk through a dimly lit building in order for strangers to jump out of the shadows and attack us – do we ever stop to ask ourselves “why?”

Halloween is an ancient holiday that goes back to pre-Christian times, originally known as Samhain (pronounced “Sow-ween”). As the night itself draws closer, we’re going to take a deeper look at various Halloween traditions and their origins. No one better than me, who has a Ph.D in Halloween Lore from History Channel University*, to answer some of those burning questions.

*Not a legitimate doctorate.

Why Do We Trick or Treat?

The ancient Druids celebrated the end of fall with a huge festival known as Samhain. They believed on this night the veil between our world and the realm of the dead was at its thinnest. All manner of spirits, ghosts and demons alike, were free to roam the earth on the darkest night of the year.

To protect themselves, they would craft masks and disguises to wear during their celebration. Their hopes were these “costumes” would trick the dead into thinking the Druids were one of their own. The spirits would be uninterested, thus going about their business in search for another innocent soul to take.

The Druids would also leave fruit on their doorsteps, an offering to any benevolent spirit that might come knocking. These traditions over the years were morphed into our modern day Halloween trick or treating. Be thankful this October the 31st as your spooky costume might do more than turn a few heads, it may just save your life.

Trick r' Treat

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Zachary Paul

I'm a long time horror nerd and wannabe director. My inspirations are varied from Wes Craven, Dario Argento, George Romero, Lucio Fulci, John Carpenter, and even some John Waters and Joss Whedon. My tastes are all over the place within the genre. Give me highbrow, gross out, slow burn, rubber suit wearing, action/horror hybrid...I love it all. I enjoy writing and talking about all aspects of horror. BONUS FACT: I love cooking and eating anything with pumpkin in it. Find me on Twitter @BringBackMM :)
  • Randy Meyer

    Thank you for this article. Even though I already knew it, I never get tired of reading about it.

  • Yes, I’m obsessed with Halloween lore. I’ve watched the same two History channel docs about a hundred times and read several books on the subject and never grow tired of the topic.