Modern-day Halloween in Canada is marked by scary decorations, fun and spooky costumes, and trick-or-treating. Here’s a glimpse into what goes on at Halloween. In Canada, trick-or-treaters visited homes on Halloween to ask for two things: candy and spare change. The candy was quickly disposed of, but the spare change went to supporting children in need around the world. The iconic UNICEF orange coin collection boxes were very much a part of Canada’s trick-or-treating history, until 2006 when UNICEF moved to an online donation system. On average, Canadians continue to donate $3 million every Halloween.
In his book, Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night, Nicholas Rogers writes that as Irish immigrants settled in urban North America, they would dress up for Halloween as part of humorous re-enactments. Newspaper reports refer to the sight of fairies and witches, while as early as 1874, Halloween masks were on sale in Kingston, Ontario. Grocery stores were quick to spot an opportunity, and sold a variety of seasonal nuts. An 1897 advertisement located by Mr Rogers refers to chocolates, creams, and gumdrops all on special offer to mark the occasion.
And while ‘guising’, or Halloween mischief, originated east of the Atlantic, it is Canada that lays claim to the earliest recorded usage of the phrase “trick or treat”. In 1927, a newspaper article in Alberta reported that pranksters were visiting houses demanding either a “trick or treat”. The tradition of pumpkins continues, however sometimes Canada’s wildlife can intervene. In 2014, residents of Banff, Alberta, were advised to take their pumpkins indoors, because a grizzly bear had been entering local gardens searching for food. It was feared the grizzly would arrive at people’s homes, because the desire to fatten up before the winter would make the pumpkins too irresistible. Trick or treat, indeed.