9. You Used to Have to Dance For Your Treats
Those with two left feet, beware; in the past, you would have had to showcase your dance moves to receive your Halloween treat. Doubtless, this is the scariest Halloween tradition of all for those who hate to dance. An early form of trick-or-treating was the European tradition of “mumming” or “guysing,” in which groups of costumed children would go door to door and perform coordinated dances, songs and skits in return for treats. In early America, the practice was followed on Thanksgiving Day, a tradition which has long since died out but is perhaps remembered in Thanksgiving Day parades.
In some early American varieties of trick-or-treating, adult men went from door to door asking for coins, which lent truth to the initial term “beggar’s night” for Halloween. Children started to get in on the fun and roamed door to door asking for coins as well. This practice died out in the early 20th century.
The modern form of trick-or-treating emerged near the middle of the 20th century as a way to redirect children from mischief to fun. Des Moines, Iowa was an early site of the organized trick-or-treat effort after a record 500 police calls were made due to rampant vandalism in the city. Halloween editions of comic strips such as Ozzie and Harriet and Peanuts helped popularize and encourage the modern trick-or-treating tradition in the late 1940s and early 1950s.