There’s probably no phrase more tied to Halloween than “Trick or Treat.”
There’s simply no other association. It conjures up nothing but festive imagery, even when not used in that context.
Kids in costume, going door to door in droves, threatening the neighbors to produce treats under penalty of trick. It’s one of the grand old customs that’s still observed to this day. It’s the backbone of what it’s all about. It’s what makes Halloween Halloween.
Time was they called it “souling” and the “treats” were mostly just fruits and small cakes. Initially they were left out on the stoop for the dead as offerings, or rather “sacrifices.” Guess people starting figuring “Hell, if they’re not gonna eat em…” Risky business, you ask me.
Further back still, it is said that the Druids, searching for human sacrifices on Samhain, would rap upon your door and say the phrase. The Treat for producing a sacrifice (most probably one of your children) would be a Jack-O-Lantern filled with the fat from a previous sacrifice, which when lit, would protect you from whatever demons and spirits the Druids were planning on conjuring that evening. The Trick? Oh, just a hexagram in blood on your front door, inviting said conjurings specifically to your home. Trick indeed.
Kind of a trick either way, honestly. Seems you’re just in for it. At least you got a Jack-O-Lantern from the Treat, and that might protect your family. Well, the rest of your family. The kid you offered up is pretty well fucked. Unless of course they can successfully bob an apple out of boiling water on the first try. If not, off with their head, which was probably horribly burned from the oil anyhow. And should they opt against trying to bob the apple? Welp, into the Wicker Man for a good old fashion sacrificial burning.
Seems this day has some pretty sinister origins. Whether or not we’re engaging in a sort of ritualistic conjuring simply through the sheer mimicry of such practices (innocent as they may be or at least appear) is the question.
Are we complicit to evil? Are we abominations in our masks? Is it now so secular it has no power? Or does it have more power in our ignorant observance.
As Colonel Cochran tells us in Halloween 3:
“You thought no further than the strange custom of having your kids wear masks and go out begging for candy.”
Where ever the absolute truth may lie, these days you’ve got peanut allergies, childhood obesity and early onset diabetes to concern yourself with, never mind possible psychological warfare and veiled Satanism.
And that’s to say nothing of Trick or Treating before it even gets dark or the dreadfully unfestive “Trunk or Treat.” Gag me with a Carmel Apple. Remember when Halloween was exciting, mischievous and just a little bit dangerous?
Or perhaps a time none of us remember when it was possibly the most dangerous night of all? Now, that’s some real spooky shit.
As you can imagine, there’s no shortage of songs on The Shindig called Trick or Treat. At present, the playlist features 4 songs by that title. 5 if you count the Lou Rawls’ Garfield tune. There’s plenty more.
We thought it was time to indulge in a block of Trick or Treat goodness, cause hey, we like blocks. Not all of these songs are specifically related to Halloween proper, but we’re not gonna be sticklers.
Whatever it meant, or means or conjures – within us or out in the ether, it is a part of Halloween; good or evil, or perhaps somewhere in between.
So, come on! Grab a Ben Cooper mask, a plastic pumpkin and crack a glow stick. Let’s go Trick Or Treatin’!