Historical Look at Trick-or-Treating on Anna Maria Island

Trick-or-treating is a staple of American culture that can be spooky, scary, and just plain fun!  Not many kids are keen on missing out and even some adults want to be sure to get in on the fun around October 31st.

You don’t need to worry about missing out on Halloween if you happen to find yourself on Anna Maria Island! 

There is an impressive number of Halloween activities near our Anna Maria Island rentals and almost everyone gets involved, including local clubs, many businesses, and the community.

But first, a little history….

History of Halloween

The history of Halloween is not always clear. Most believe that it has originated from the Celtic tradition of Samhain which celebrated the end of the harvest season and start of the winter.

The ancient Celts believed that when the harvest season comes to a close and the seasons change, a bridge to the world of the dead is opened. The costume was a disguise, making the living appear like the undead so they can blend in while the spirits roam the night.

The Catholic Church later attempted to turn the tradition of dressing up like demons into dressing up like saints, adjusting the holiday to an “All Hallows Eve,” or “All Soul’s Day.” Over the years, the two traditions blended together into a macabre celebration of the undead – saint or otherwise.

October 31st is also Reformation Day – marking the day in 1517 that Martin Luther penned his 95 Theses.  One of his 95 Theses sums up the point Luther was making – The Church’s true treasure is the gospel of Jesus Christ.  This began the Protestant Reformation.

kids trick or treating in anna maria island
Photo from Shutterstock

Trick-or-Treating Traditions

The concept of trick-or-treating derives from the Middle Ages, in a tradition known as mumming which was performed on certain holidays in Ireland and Britain. People would dress up and go door to door in an attempt to impress their neighbors with their costume.

They would often dance or recite poems, usually with a spiritual slant. For this entertainment, they would seek food, prayers, and perhaps even a home for the night.

The tradition never went away in the UK and slowly transitioned into a Halloween staple in America from the influx of Scottish, Irish and British immigrants that brought the lore and tradition with them.

It rose in popularity starting around the 1920’s. In 1927, the word “trick-or-treat” first appeared in writing. Despite efforts to slow the holiday down, through the “American boys don’t beg” campaign and political anti-violence mischief policies, the holiday proliferated.

By the 1950’s, trick-or-treating was a Halloween staple. The old angles of the undead still hang uncomfortably in the air, giving the holiday a moody and spooky feel. But, knowing the history of October 31st, there are other, life giving celebrations to focus on as well!

Plan Your Visit

Book a vacation rental on Anna Maria Island this Halloween and experience small Florida island life during the spookiest time of the year.

Best Places to Trick-or-Treat on the Island

Anna Maria Island is one of the few places that retain a cozy, laid-back Old Florida lifestyle on Halloween – you know, just like when you were a kid and the holiday was always a safe and fun community event. There is a neighborly excitement in the air as children and adults dress up and anticipate the many treats they will gather as they visit the downtown areas of the island.  The luckiest may end up not only with candy but samples of pizza and ice cream as well!

When the sun starts to set, the trick-or-treating begins… actually, some things have changed since the 1950s.  The fun begins right after school gets out at 3:30 in Holmes Beach.  The local kids normally parade to the Chamber of Commerce (right next to Eat Here restaurant) and assemble for best in costume awards.

Immediately following, The Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce at 5313 Gulf Drive hosts a “Trail of Treats”, where kids can get a map of over 50 participating businesses throughout the island where they can trick-or-treat – adding to their list of targets and making sure that bag is completely filled with sweets. Then, if you head to dinner, many places will be serving you in costume.

Though trick or treating door to door is becoming a thing of the past, there is one street that in the past has welcomed trick-or-treaters after the downtown activities have finished.  If you are able to find it, your kids will enjoy an extra boost of sugar before the night is over and you will most likely have a chance to meet some island locals.

There’s nothing quite like Halloween on Anna Maria Island. Though the island is generally quiet during Halloween, there is a kinetic energy in the air across all three cities. It’s a very safe and ideal family destination for trick-and-treating along with the many other fun activities that can be explored this time of year, from beachgoing to fishing charters, museums, wildlife tours and more.

For off-island activities, St Armand’s Circle, Hunsader Farms, and MOTE Aquarium all have activities planned.  Or go all out and take an evening trip to Disney to enjoy Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween.