Trick or Treat!

So I had a good portion of this written last week, Halloween time, before I found out we weren’t blogging. So sorry it’s a little out of season, I know we’re all gearing up for thanksgiving at this point. But I mean hey, who doesn’t love Halloween?

Trick or Treat! This is what we say that one night right around Halloween when we go door to door asking for candy. Trick or Treat night was one of the best nights of the year when we were little (or at least for me). We’d go out, door to door, for a couple hours and then, in my house, when my brothers and I came back in, it was like a market. “I’ll trade you a Kit-Kat for a Reese’s,” “I’ll trade you three LaffyTaffys for a Milky Way,” etc. Anyway, while I was reminiscing about the good ol’ times, I started thinking about this… what does trick or treat actually mean? As a kid, it was just a silly phrase you said to the people holding the big candy bowl to make sure some of it ended up in your bag. And I obviously get the treat part, but what about the trick part? I had always assumed I was asking the people at the door to either give me a treat or perform a trick, and they had just opted for the treat part. It wasn’t until I started looking into the Spanish translation that I realized (as probably most of you have always realized) there was another way to look at it. Maybe, we were saying “hey, either give me a treat or I’m going to play a trick on you” (please and thank you, of course).

While trick or treating isn’t very popular in most Spanish-speaking countries, many regions of Mexico do actually trick or treat. When they trick or treat, they say “truco o convite.” Convite literally translates to treat, so that’s not too hard. Truco, on the other hand, is where it gets more interesting. Truco is trick, but is used more as something sneaky. For instance “there must be a catch” or “the trick or secret to it is…” and is closer to “mischief” than to a trick that you would have your dog do. So this time around, the Spanish translation actually taught me something. When I’ve said trick or treat, I’ve actually been threatening. And all these years I’ve been wondering why nobody ever juggled for me.

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2 Responses to Trick or Treat!

  1. Phoebe Canagarajah says:

    This is interesting. And I never even thought about what the “trick” part meant in “trick or treat”. People were going to give me candy no matter what, saying the phrase “trick or treat” was the secret code that allowed this transaction of goods. Do people in spanish-speaking countries go trick-or-treating? And do they actually play tricks when they don’t get a treat? Because I’ve never heard of anyone doing that here.

  2. ayp5187 says:

    I also love Halloween A LOT! I always figured Trick or Treat meant “either give me a treat or scare me” which doesn’t really make sense because why would I ask to be scared? There was this one haunted house in my neighborhood that would always fulfil the “trick” part of my Halloween. They had a whole skit they would perform for each trick or treater that came to their door. It was very scary.

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