Updated: Oct 13, 2021
Take this short quiz about Halloween and find out if you're a terrific trick-or-treater or a silly pumpkin head.
Think you can handle it? Proceed with caution!
1. Where did Halloween originate?
Answer: d. Ireland
Halloween was originally Samhain (pronounced so-wen), a Celtic New Year holiday celebrating the night that the veil was lifted between the spirit world and the living. People made their homes as inhospitable as possible, so the spirits would be less likely to enter them.
All fires, including candles and fireplaces, were extinguished to make the house dark and uninviting. The tradition of dressing in Halloween costumes and painting faces in an ugly way also came about because people wanted to make themselves unappealing to these wandering spirits.
When the Catholic Church christianized the island of Ireland, they could not stop people from celebrating Samhain. So in the 8th century A.D., they permitted it to become All Hallow's Eve, the night before All Saints Day.
When the Irish immigrated to the U.S. in the 1840s, they brought their own brand of Catholicism with them. This included the Halloween rite, with its mix of Christian and pagan customs.
2. What is it called when children ask their neighbors for candy in costumes?
b. Running in place
c. Trick or treating
d. Easter egg hunting
Answer: c. Trick or Treating
It's believed that trick or treating evolved from the ancient Celtic Samhain ritual where people dressed as ghosts and demons, performed dances around a bonfire, and received treats to appease the evil spirits.
This practice, known as mumming, dates back to the Middle Ages.
By the time Christianity had spread into Britain, a new practice called "souling" had developed.
Poor people would visit the houses of the rich and receive pastries called soul cakes, in exchange for promises to pray for the homeowners' dead relatives.
In Scotland and Ireland, meanwhile, young people would visit their neighbors' houses and sing a song, recite a poem or perform another sort of "trick" before receiving a treat of nuts, fruit, or coins.
The term trick or treating wasn't used until the 1920s when it was adopted in the US.
The first mention of trick or treating in print was on Nov. 4, 1927, according to Today I Found Out.
Discussing the town's Halloween meeting, a Canadian journalist wrote:
"The youthful tormentors were at back door and front demanding edible plunder by the word 'trick or treat,' to which the inmates gladly responded and sent the robbers away rejoicing."
But adults weren't too happy about being forced to hand out sweets, under the threat of a trick, when this first started - and saw it more as an offer they couldn't refuse.
3. What is Americans' favorite candy?
b. Hershey's kisses
d. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
Answer: d. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
According to USA Today, more than 36% of Americans say Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are their favorite Halloween treat. It's more than twice the number of people who chose Snickers (18%) as their favorite.
M&M's ranked third at 11%, while Hershey bars tied with candy corn in fourth place, capturing 6% each.
At the bottom of the list is candy corn, the Halloween treat many Americans appear to despise.
4. When did the US begin celebrating Halloween?
Answer: d. 1900s
While the Irish brought Halloween traditions to the U.S. in the 1840s, Halloween night as we know it did not start until the early 20th century.
In the early 20th century, Irish and Scottish communities revived the Old World traditions of souling in the United States. By the 1920s, however, pranks had become the Halloween activity of choice for rowdy kids.
One theory suggests that excessive pranks on Halloween led to the widespread adoption of an organized, community-based trick-or-treating tradition in the 1930s during the Great Depression.
It was definitely established in the U.S. by 1951 when Walt Disney's premiered "Trick or Treat" with Donald Duck and his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie.
5. Which is not a way the US celebrates Halloween?
a. Pumpkin carving
b. Costume parties
c. Singing carols
d. Watching scary movies
Answer: c. Singing carols.
Many Americans celebrate the traditions of Halloween by dressing in costumes and telling tales of witches and ghosts.
Pumpkins are carved into glowering jack-o'-lanterns. Children parade from house to house, knocking on doors and calling out "Trick or treat!" hoping to have their bags filled with candy.
Americans leave the carol singing for Christmas.
Halloween as celebrated in the U.S. has now become popular in other countries, such as Canada, the UK, Italy, Poland, Spain, and many more.
In Latin American countries such as Mexico and Peru, Halloween is a separate holiday celebrated the night before the Day of the Dead.
Want to celebrate Halloween more while improving your English? Check out these five scary movies.
Time for the big reveal. How many did you get right?
5 correct - True trick-or-treater
You're a true blue trick-or-treater. The good kind that asks for treats, and not plays tricks, of course.
3-4 correct - Snickers bar
You may not quite be at the level of American's favorite candy, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, but you're pretty close.
1-2 correct - Shaky skeleton
You're trying your best. You may be made of bones now but with practice, you'll one day become a true trick-or-treater.
0 correct - Silly pumpkinhead
You're a silly pumpkinhead until you learn more about Halloween!
Noelle Ruta was a former English and German teacher for Amidon Studios. She previously taught German, English, French, and Italian at universities in the U.S. She holds a BA in German from Montclair State University. Originally from Long Island, New York, Noelle now lives in Dallas, Texas with her boyfriend and two cats.