Social Studies Mini-Spark #1: The First Trick-or-Treaters

Trick-or-treating has been around for quite awhile in America. By now, however, it’s mostly about the treats.

Like other Halloween customs, trick-or-treating comes from Ireland and Great Britain and has to do with the souls of the dead coming back to earth.

People would go from house to house, asking for “soul cakes,” little baked items that people inside the houses would give in exchange for having a prayer said for their soul.

Also, people would leave food and drink outside their houses, in hopes that the spirits roaming the earth would take the offering and leave the house alone.

It was said that both the people asking for the “soul cakes” and the spirits who didn’t find any food or drink outside a house would play a trick, or practical joke, on the people who lived in that house.

Some people still play practical jokes today. Most people, however, prefer to give treats to the kids who say, “Trick or Treat!”

Article Source:, Graphics courtesy of ArtToday

  • Go to this website to find the recipe for soul cakes. Bake your own soul cake, take a picture of it, and e-mail it to the EY coordinator at your school.
  • We’ve all heard the rhyme, “Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet, Give Me Something Good to Eat”.  Write your own “Trick or Treat” rhyme, incorporating the facts from the above article.
  • Or, respond to this article with something new you learned in the comment section below.


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