An official website of the United States government

Halloween: An Ancient Celebration
March 23, 2016

Children dressed as ghosts, goblins, super heroes and bunny rabbits at a Halloween event in Vail, Colorado. AP Images/Kira Horvath

Why do Americans dress their children in costumes and send them to knock on the doors of strangers? Irish immigrants to the U.S. brought with them traditions from their Celtic forebears, who marked the end of autumn harvest by going house to house disguised in costumes, reciting verses or songs in exchange for food. Today in the U.S, children go from house to house calling “trick or treat”—a good-natured taunt that threatens some sort of “trick” if the children are not given a candy “treat.”

(Pamphlet, 2 pgs.)

PDF – web English (1 MB)