Trick-or-Treating Around the Globe
The earliest record of costumed kids going door-to-door seeking treats for not doing tricks dates back to Ancient Greece. On the island of Rhodes, kids dressed up as birds and went to houses singing songs for food and promising mischief if they didn’t get it.
Today, kids in many countries enjoy some form of trick-or-treating, though the sweets and day of the year may be different. Thankfully, there isn’t much trickery!
At the end of the frightful festivities, when the candy sorting and bartering begins, what are your child’s most prized sweets? It varies from state to state, but Starburst, M&Ms, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are typically tops. In Colorado, however, kids get excited about black licorice, and in Oklahoma they flip for Circus Peanuts—banana-flavored, marshmallowy treats.
In parts of Canada, children sometimes say, “Halloween apples” instead of, “trick or treat,” which might trace back to the popular Canadian fall treat of toffee apples. Today, many Canadians would be happy to find a Mackintosh’s toffee bar or a gummy Big Turk bar coated in milk chocolate in their bag.
Scotland and Ireland
A lot of Halloween traditions in the US and Canada, including apple bobbing and jack-o’-lanterns, were brought by Scottish and Irish immigrants. Trick-or-treating itself is often credited to their centuries-old tradition of guising, or going door-to-door performing for food or money while disguised.
It’s only been in recent decades that the saying “trick or treat” caught on in Scotland and Ireland, though. Traditionally, kids would say, “Help the Halloween party!”
In Mexico, the equivalent of trick-or-treating is called calaverita (little skull), and instead of saying, “trick or treat,” kids ask, “¿Me da mi calaverita?” (“Can you give me my little skull?”). They’re rewarded with small skull candies made of sugar or chocolate.
Portuguese children go house-to-house on All Saints Day, November 1, carrying pumpkin-carved lanterns called coca. They ask people for Pão-por-Deus (soulmass cakes) while singing rhymes about the departed.
In Sweden, kids go looking for goodies on the Thursday before Easter. Commonly dressed as witches and monsters, they are happy to scare up some Skumkantereller (chewy marshmallow candies shaped like mushrooms), Sur Skumfisk (sour marshmallow fish), or Salta Blackfiskar (little chewy octopus-shaped candies that taste like salty black licorice).
In northern Germany (and southern Denmark), children dress up in costumes and seek treats on New Year’s Eve. It’s called Rummelpottlauf, and it’s not just for kids . Adults get dressed up in costumes and go door-to-door singing for goodies, too.
The next time you’re at a store that sells international sweets, take some home to sample. (Maybe you’ll spot some of these favorites from around the globe.) What do your taste testers think of each candy? Does it taste yummy or yucky? Why? Point out that what is considered delicious can vary from country to country, state to state—or even family member to family member, and ask your kids to share their ideas about why that might be.
What are the most loved trick-or-treating candies and traditions in your neighborhood? Tag #LittlePassports on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest and let us know!