Happy Spooktober! In the spirit of the season, we investigate the history of trick-or-treating, and stay tuned: at the end of the blog post we'll tell you how you could earn a treat with a few tricks from us over Twitter next week.
Halloween as we know it today is patched together from a smattering of other festivals: All Saints Day, the feast of All Souls, the Celtic festival of Samhain, and a Roman festival commemorating the dead. Trick-or-treating harkens back to the Middle Ages, when children, and sometimes the very poor, would disguise themselves as saints, angels, or sometimes demons to solicit food or money door-to-door in exchange for songs or prayers. This practice was known as "souling," and those performing door-to-door would be bestowed with a tiny spiced cake for their efforts, known as a soul-cake, or bits of bread and coins, with the belief that every cake bestowed to the young and the poor could redeem a soul from hell.
"Souling" eventually turned into "guising" in the 19th century, where children would dress up as the dead (or the aforementioned angels and demons) and run door-to-door performing a simple trick, like telling jokes or singing songs, to delight the homeowners in hopes of receiving a sweet treat like nuts, fruits, or candies. In North America, the tradition of guising is younger than we think. Halloween, in the form we know it today, has really only been going strong since after the Great Depression. Children of Scottish and Irish immigrants revived the practice in the 1920's and 1930's after sugar rations were lifted.
However, the first recorded use of the term "trick or treat" in Canada is tied to a bit of mischief, as the practice became increasingly tied to small acts of vandalism. In the Nov. 4, 1927 edition of the Blackie, Alberta Herald, they printed:
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
Disclaimer: we don't condone any vandalism here at BookNet, but we do have some helpful tips and tricks, and we firmly believe in delicious treats. We'd like to share both with you.
Without further ado, we present to you the #BNCTrickorTreat Contest!
Between Oct. 25 and 29, follow @BookNet_Canada on Twitter to see the tips and tricks about BookNet products like CataList, SalesData, and BiblioShare that we'll be posting. Retweet the tricks tagged with #BNCTrickorTreat to enter into a draw for a sweet booklover treat: a $25 giftcard to the bookstore of your choice!
Each RT counts as one entry. We will be randomly drawing the prize winner from the pool of entries on Oct. 30 at 2 p.m. EST.
We also encourage you to add tricks of your own! Tweet a helpful tip about your favourite BookNet service using the tag #BNCTrickorTreat and it will count as two entries!
We'll be kicking off the contest on Monday, Oct. 25 on Twitter—we'll see you there!