A blend of religious and superstitious beliefs, the traditions of Halloween have evolved over several centuries. One such tradition, trick-or-treating, most likely took its cues from All Souls’ Day festivities in England. During the revelries, less fortunate families would beg for food and be given pastries called “soul cakes” in return for their promise to pray for the gifting family’s dead relatives. The church encouraged distribution of soul cakes as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine out for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as “going a-souling,” was eventually adopted by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food, and money. Ale and money were dropped from the tradition in the U.S. but collecting candy door-to-door still occurs of course. One quarter of all the candy sold annually in the U.S. is purchased for Halloween. With an estimated $6 billion spent, Halloween is the second largest commercial holiday after Christmas in the U.S.

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