Trick-Or-Treating at Halloween!
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Trick-or-Treating is a custom for children on Halloween

Children proceed in costume from house to house, asking for treats such as candy, or sometimes money, with the question, "trick or treat?" The "trick" is a (usually idle) threat to perform mischief on the homeowners or their property if no treat is given.

In the United States and Canada, trick-or-treating is now one of the main traditions of Halloween and it has become socially expected that if one lives in a neighborhood with children one should purchase treats in preparation for trick-or-treaters. The National Confectioners Association reported in 2005 that 80 percent of adults in the United States planned to give out confectionery to trick-or-treaters, and that 93 percent of children planned to go trick-or-treating.

The tradition of going from door to door receiving food already existed in Britain and Ireland, in the form of souling, where children and poor people would sing and say prayers for the dead in return for cakes. Guising — children disguised in costumes going from door to door for food and coins — also predates trick or treat, and was traditional at Halloween in late 19th century Scotland and Ireland. While going from door to door has remained popular among Scots and Irish, the North American custom of saying "trick or treat" has recently become common. The activity is prevalent in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, Puerto Rico, and northwestern and central Mexico (where it is called calaverita, Spanish for "little skull"; instead of "trick or treat", children ask ¿me da mi calaverita?, "can you give me my little skull?"). In the last twenty years, amid controversy, the custom has spread to other countries, such as Italy, Australia and New Zealand, possibly due to the ubiquity of American TV shows and movies in those countries.
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History / Origin
The practice of dressing up in costumes and begging door to door for treats on holidays dates back to the Middle Ages and includes Christmas wassailing. Trick-or-treating resembles the late medieval practice of souling, when poor folk would go door to door on Hallowmas (November 1), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2). It originated in Ireland and Britain, although similar practices for the souls of the dead were found as far south as Italy. Shakespeare mentions the practice in his comedy The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1593), when Speed accuses his master of "puling [whimpering or whining] like a beggar at Hallowmas." The custom of wearing costumes and masks at Halloween goes back to Celtic traditions of attempting to copy the evil spirits or placate them, in Scotland for instance where the dead were impersonated by young men with masked, veiled or blackened faces, dressed in white.

American historian and author Ruth Edna Kelley of Massachusetts wrote the first book length history of the holiday in the US; The Book of Hallowe'en (1919), and references souling in the chapter "Hallowe'en in America";

The taste in Hallowe'en festivities now is to study old traditions, and hold a Scotch party, using Burn's poem Hallowe'en as a guide; or to go a-souling as the English used. In short, no custom that was once honored at Hallowe'en is out of fashion now.

Kelley lived in Lynn, Massachusetts, a town with 4,500 Irish immigrants, 1,900 English immigrants, and 700 Scottish immigrants in 1920. In her book, Kelley touches on customs that arrived from across the Atlantic; "Americans have fostered them, and are making this an occasion something like what it must have been in its best days overseas. All Hallowe'en customs in the United States are borrowed directly or adapted from those of other countries".

At the time of substantial Scottish and Irish immigration to North America in the late 19th century, Halloween had a strong tradition of "guising" - children in Scotland and Ireland disguised in costumes going from door to door requesting food or coins.

The earliest known reference to ritual begging on Halloween in English speaking North America occurs in 1911, when a newspaper in Kingston, Ontario reported that it was normal for the smaller children to go street "guising" (see below) on Halloween between 6 and 7 p.m., visiting shops and neighbors to be rewarded with nuts and candies for their rhymes and songs.. Another isolated reference to ritual begging on Halloween appears, place unknown, in 1915, with a third reference in Chicago in 1920.

The earliest known use in print of the term "trick or treat" appears in 1927, from Blackie, Alberta, Canada:

Hallowe’en provided an opportunity for real strenuous fun. No real damage was done except to the temper of some who had to hunt for wagon wheels, gates, wagons, barrels, etc., much of which decorated the front street. The youthful tormentors were at back door and front demanding edible plunder by the word “trick or treat” to which the inmates gladly responded and sent the robbers away rejoicing.

The thousands of Halloween postcards produced between the turn of the 20th century and the 1920s commonly show children but do not depict trick-or-treating. The editor of a collection of over 3,000 vintage Halloween postcards writes, "There are cards which mention the custom [of trick-or-treating] or show children in costumes at the doors, but as far as we can tell they were printed later than the 1920s and more than likely even the 1930s. Tricksters of various sorts are shown on the early postcards, but not the means of appeasing them". Trick-or-treating does not seem to have become a widespread practice until the 1930s, with the first U.S. appearances of the term in 1934,] and the first use in a national publication occurring in 1939.

Increased popularity
Almost all pre-1940 uses of the term "trick-or-treat" are from the western United States and Canada. Trick-or-treating spread from the western United States eastward, stalled by sugar rationing that began in April 1942 during World War II and did not end until June 1947.

Early national attention to trick-or-treating was given in October 1947 issues of the children's magazines Jack and Jill and Children's Activities and, by Halloween episodes of the network radio programs The Baby Snooks Show in 1946 and The Jack Benny Show and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet in 1948. The custom had become firmly established in popular culture by 1952, when Walt Disney portrayed it in the cartoon Trick or Treat, and Ozzie and Harriet were besieged by trick-or-treaters on an episode of their television show. In 1953 UNICEF first conducted a national campaign for children to raise funds for the charity while trick-or-treating.

Although some popular histories of Halloween have characterized trick-or-treating as an adult invention to rechannel Halloween activities away from vandalism, nothing in the historical record supports this theory. To the contrary, adults, as reported in newspapers from the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s, typically saw it as a form of extortion, with reactions ranging from bemused indulgence to anger. Likewise, as portrayed on radio shows, children would have to explain what trick-or-treating was to puzzled adults, and not the other way around. Sometimes even the children protested: for Halloween 1948, members of the Madison Square Boys Club in New York City carried a parade banner that read "American Boys Don't Beg."

Introduction to the UK
Before the 1980s, the North American phrase "trick-or-treat" was little known in the UK and when introduced was often regarded as an unusual and even unwelcome import. Since the 80s it has become more widespread, but is still often viewed as an exotic and unwelcome commercialised import, with the BBC referring to it as "the Japanese knotweed of festivals" and "Making demands with menaces".
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Local Variants
In Scotland and Ireland, guising (children going from house to house in disguise) is traditional, and the North American jocular threat is not widely practiced, as the traditional gift (in the form of "apples or nuts for the Halloween party", in more recent times chocolate) is given out to the children dressed up as ghosts and witches. Up until circa 1960 children used unusual clothing and face make-up for stunning effect, but with the growing commercialism, theme masks and theme outfits became more popular. In 19th and early 20th century Ireland the tricks were often a bit alarming— for example, slates were placed over the chimney-pots of houses filling the rooms with smoke and field gates were lifted off their hinges and hung from high tree branches.

Until the 1990s, Irish children said "Help the Halloween Party," but some are now more inclined to use the North American "Trick or treat" phrase, due to the influence of American movies, and television.

In parts of Canada, children are more likely to say "Halloween apples" instead of "trick or treat." This probably originated when the toffee apple was a popular type of candy. Apple-giving in much of Canada, however, has been taboo since the 1960s when stories (possibly apocryphal) appeared of razors hidden inside Halloween apples; parents began to check over their children's "loot" for safety before allowing them to eat it. In Quebec, children also go door to door on Halloween. However, in French speaking neighbourhoods, instead of "Trick or treat?", they will simply say "Halloween", though in tradition it used to be La charité s'il-vous-plaît ("Charity, please").

In some parts of Ohio, Iowa, Massachusetts and other states, the night designated for Trick-or-Treating is referred to as Beggars Night.

In Sweden children dress up as witches and go trick-or-treating on Maundy Thursday (the Thursday before Easter) while Danish children dress up in various attires and go trick-or-treating on Fastelavn (or the next day, Shrove Monday) and In Norway kids go trick-or-treating between Christmas and New Year's Eve. The Easter witch tradition is done on Palm Sunday in Finland. In parts of Flanders and some parts of the Netherlands and most areas of Germany and Austria, children go to houses with home made beet lanterns or with paper lanterns (which can hold a candle or electronic light), singing songs about St. Martin on St. Martin's Day (the 11th of November), in return for treats. In Northern Germany and Southern Denmark children dress up in costumes and go trick-or-treating on New Year's Eve in a tradition called "Rummelpott" .

Children of the St. Louis, Missouri area are expected to perform a joke, usually a simple Halloween-themed pun or riddle, before receiving any candy; this "trick" earns the "treat".

Children in Des Moines, Iowa also tell jokes or otherwise perform before receiving their treat. This originated as well-organized campaign to reduce Halloween mischief-making. Des Moines trick-or-treating is also unusual in that it is actually done the night before Halloween, known locally as "Beggars' Night".

Guising
In Scotland and parts of northern England, a similar tradition is called guising because of the disguises or costumes worn by the children. Although traditions of seasonal guising stretch back at least as far as the Middle Ages, it wasn't until the late 19th century that Halloween had a strong tradition of "guising" - Scottish and Irish children disguised in costumes going from door to door for food. However there is a significant difference from the way the practice has developed in the United States. In Scotland, the children are only supposed to receive treats if they perform tricks for the households they go to. This normally takes the form of singing a song or reciting a joke or a funny poem which the child has memorized before setting out. Occasionally a more talented child may do card tricks, play the mouth organ, or something even more impressive, but most children will earn plenty of treats even with something very simple. Often they won't even need to perform their trick. Guising although remaining popular well into the 20th century, it is being replaced in some parts of the country with the North American form of saying "trick-or-treat". Such a practice is in use in certain regions of the United States, as well.
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You may also want to research:
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