I enjoy a sweet treat just like the next guy. I have fun putting on a costume too, once in a while. Heck, I can even enjoy a spooky story. But how in the world did these ever become connected and practiced on the same day under the banner, “Halloween?”
The inspiration for Halloween has numerous origins to thank. Most notably, the Celtic holiday of “Samhain” which was held at the end of every harvest season (about October 31st), to celebrate the success of the growing season and make lists of the food in storage. It was about this time of the year that there would be whisperings and rumors of the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapping. When the deceased come back to life, and wreak havoc with sickness or damaged crops. Being threatened with sickness and damaged food supplies going into winter would be enough to terrify anyone responsible for a family or community. To help settle the worry accompanied with the on coming darkness, harvest celebrations would include big fires for merrymaking. Additionally the practice of wearing masks and costumes became regularly practiced. These were worn to mimic the evil spirits, and if they worked as they were supposed to, they’d scare the spirits away from their food and village.
Our modern day practice of trick-or-treating on Halloween has connections with All Hallows Eve as well as All Saint’s Day, when children would go door-to-door offering prayers to the dead in exchange for food. Fusing these historical traditions from Scotland, Ireland, England, and as far south as Italy, we begin to see connections that have been made by the many immigrants who’ve made their home here on the American continent. Protection from superstition and preparation for winter has become a chance to fill a bag with sweets and scare a few wary souls.