Alberta's known for many things: the Rocky Mountains, the oil industry, the Calgary Stampede. But you wouldn't think that it's also home to one of the most beloved Halloween traditions, that is, trick-or-treating. The phrase originated in southern Alberta, but the story of how Alberta trick-or-treating came to be will send chills down your spine. 

The story of how Halloween originated and evolved over the centuries is long and complex, so we won't get into the nitty-gritty of it. 

Basically, human beings have been dressing up in costumes and spooking each other out since the eighth century. But the concept of trick-or-treating wasn't really associated with Halloween until far more recently. 

A research website called Today I Found Out dug into the history behind trick-or-treating and they found it was first mentioned in a newspaper in southern Alberta. 

According to the website, the "earliest known reference to 'trick or treat,'" was found in the November 4, 1927 edition of the Herald, which operated out of Blackie, Alberta. 

Blackie is a hamlet that's an hour away from the City of Lethbridge. 

Lethbridge historian Belinda Crowson confirmed to Global News that the phrase did originate from Lethbridge. The Smithsonian Institution also said the same in one of their articles. 

According to Today I Found Out, the act of children dressing up in costumes and going to people's houses for food or money has been a thing for a long time.

It was originally a part of Hallowmas, a holiday that celebrated saints in the Christian religion. 

The children would go door-to-door and sing to the adults, often on "behalf of the dead," so they began to be called "soulers."

In fact, the whole act of what we now know as trick-or-treating was referred to as "souling" for the longest time. 

This "souling" continued in the U.K. for a while before Scottish and Irish immigrants brought it over to North America in the late 1800s. 

The whole activity was super popular in the western part of North America, including Alberta.

But at some point, the children apparently stopped singing and dancing for treats — they "vandalized and extorted for their confectioneries."

Therefore, the term "trick-or-treat" was coined. Here's what was written in its first mention in the Lethbridge newspaper:

"The youthful tormentors were at the 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." 

So when you think of cute kids wearing adorable superhero costumes and requesting candy during Halloween, remember that it wasn't so much the case a hundred years ago. 

From singing on behalf of the dead to basically robbing people, this is how the super weird tradition came to be. 


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