The History behind Iowa’s Halloween Alternative: ‘Beggars’ Night’
When Halloween falls on a Monday like it does this year, a lot of parents will send their kids out Sunday night, with buckets in hand, to do a little early 'trick or treating'.
But the concept of heading out on October 30th in search of candy, instead of the 31st, has been a staple of one Iowa community for more than 80 years.
It's called 'Beggars' Night' and it's been credited for saving Halloween in Iowa's capital city.
According to a Grunge.com article, 'Iowa's Unique Response to a Troubling Halloween Trend Still Exists Decades Later', the origins of 'Beggars' Night' began in 1938 after the City of Des Moines experienced a spike in vandalism during the Halloween celebrations.
The Des Moines Register estimated that there were 550 reports of vandalism in Des Moines that year in a city of 140,000 people at that time.
That prompted city official Kathryn Krieg to come up with the idea for 'Beggars' Night', which would happen on the night of October 30 and would involve kids shouting 'trick or eats' instead of 'trick or treat'. The idea was that the kids would earn their candy by telling a joke or performing a trick.
From the beginning, 'Beggars' Night' was a resounding success.
In just a few years, reports of vandalism in the Des Moines area in late October were cut in half.
More than 80 years later, 'Beggars' Night' has now branched out to communities in Ohio, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and parts of Western New York.
It even has its own Wikipedia page.