The Medieval Halloween Biscuit That Helped Create Trick-Or-Treating

Halloween is the one day out of the year that you can dress up like your favorite movie character, historical figure, or whatever costume you can dream up. According to Britannica, Halloween's origins began with the Celtic festival known as Samhain, when people dressed up on All Souls' Day, which falls on November 1. They believed the souls of the dead returned to their homes that day and that wearing a costume would ward off spirits. While many may know the origin of Halloween, you may not understand how Samhain evolved into getting free sweet stuff.

Better known as the tradition of trick-or-treating, young ones decked out in their costumes go door to door in neighborhoods, and once they've said the magic phrase of "trick or treat," they're given candy. This autumn tradition of asking for candy, often from strangers, is a bit of a puzzle. Have you ever wondered how this tradition came to be? Apparently, it all started with a biscuit. 

A treat in exchange for a prayer

According to Yorkshire Bylines, trick-or-treating began during medieval times in Britain. Back then, children would go house to house and knock on doors while singing a song, in hopes of receiving a baked good, and in exchange for the item, the kids would promise to pray for the souls of deceased relatives on All Souls' Day. While this may not sound like a spooky tradition, the kind of baked item the children would hope to receive was a sweet biscuit known as a soul cake.

As Cooking Journey's recipe details, a soul cake is a round cookie with a cross etched into the top of the dough before it goes into the oven. The finished product was given to the singers "for the souls of the givers and their friends." The cookie's dough is made with butter, flour, and sugar, as well as raisins and spices similar to what's found in pumpkin spice, like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger. This Halloween if you want a homemade treat to give to friends or family, make this cookie, and as you hand it over, be sure to tell them about the origin of the soul cake.