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The Strange History Behind Halloween's Trick or Treating Will Surprise You

Oct 26, 2016 01:26 PM EDT
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From haunted houses, carved pumpkins or filling up your bellies with sweets, the Halloween season has become one of the most-celebrated and spookiest holidays of the year. However, did you know that the tradition of trick or treating has a bizarre, strange history?

Not One, But Four Festivals

Halloween dates back to our ancient past, in fact, according to Today I Found, it's a fusion and adaptation of four festivals from different cultures. These festivals include the Roman Feralia festival (commemorating the dead), the Romon Pomona festival (honoring the goddess of fruits and trees), the Celtic Samuin or Samhian festival and the Catholics' All Souls Day.

Specifically, the Celtic Samuin festival has contributed to the tradition of wearing costumes. In the Celtic culture, Samuin marks the end of Autumn, where young men dress up in white costumes and blackened faces or masks to impersonate evil spirits. The idea of dressing up as evil spirits stems from the belief that they could fool real spirits during an encounter.

(Photo : Hulton Archive/Getty Images) 31st October 1886: Irish Halloween celebrations, including the party game 'bobbing for apples'.

The Birth of 'Souling'

When the Catholic Church came up with All Souls Day around 800, they wanted to create an activity that would slowly erase the famous Samuin festival. Thus, they came up with a three-day festivity of the dead: All Hallows Even, All Soul's Day and All Saints Day.

By the 11th century, the Catholic Church then adopted the costume-wearing tradition from the Samuin festival. The first name of trick or treating was "souling," where children and the poor during the Middle Ages dress up in costumes to beg for food or money in exchange for songs and prayers.

During the 19th century, souling has become prevalent in the U.K. and has involved more children asking, not for sugary sweets, but fruit and money.

(Photo : Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The Addition of 'Trick' to 'Treating'

The arrival of this British practice to America was brought by the Scottish and Irish during the late 19th and 20th century. It spread in the country, but stopped for a while during the World War I because rations of sugar treats were halted due to the war.

From previous practice of offering songs, some mischief was added to the tradition, with children vandalizing and extorting for sugary treats.

According to Smithsonian, unlike Americans, the British do not find so much fun in trick or treating and sometimes turn off their lights during Halloween to pretend that they're not at home.

(Photo : Sergio Dionisio/Getty Images)

Sugar Overload During Halloween is Bad News

Whether young or old, taking too much sugar is bad news for your health. So during Halloween, sugary treats, despite their availability, should always be taken with caution. BBC Good Food notes that eating too much sugar equals to a lot of calories, that when not burned, will turn into fat.

The outlet notes that if a child's sugar intake is too high and he or she doesn't use it, there would be a high chance that he or she will carry this weight through adolescence. Four- to six-year-olds are recommended to take 19 grams of sugar per day, seven- to 10-year-olds 24 grams and 11-year-olds and above 30 grams.

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