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halloween trick or treat

Trick or Treat in German


Is Halloween celebrated in Germany? Well, “kind of” would be the correct answer I guess. Halloween isn’t a traditional feast in Germany. All Hallows on the other hand is a holiday in catholic areas. So, how did Halloween come to Germany? And how do you say trick or treat in German?

Where did Halloween originate?

As you may know, Halloween didn’t start in the US, but in Ireland. The Celts celebrated their new year then and believed that on this last day of their year, spirits walked on earth. To keep them from entering their homes they put food outside to distract them.

Irish immigrants then brought this custom to the USA (as well as other countries), where it really caught on.

trick or treat in german
Süßes, sonst gibt’s Saures! – Trick or treat in German. — Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

When did Halloween come to Germany?

In Catholic areas of Germany, carnival has long been celebrated in February before the Christian season of Lent begins. But in 1991, the Iraq war was raging and many people found it inappropriate to celebrate joyfully while elsewhere people were suffering from a war.

Therefore, there was no celebration, but this was of course a problem for the companies that made their money from costumes, joke articles or sweets. Their warehouses were full and they naturally wanted to sell their goods. So they started promoting Halloween. This campaign and the fact that Halloween also appears in many American movies and TV series gradually made the holiday popular in Germany as well. Many clubs and bars also saw an opportunity and started throwing Halloween based parties.

How do you say Trick or Treat in German?

There are different verses children use in Germany to say trick or treat. We’ll give you the German sentences as well the English translations.

  1. Süßes, sonst gibt’s Saures. — Literally translates as “Sweets or you’ll get sour.”
  2. Süßes oder Saures. — Shorter form of the above. Literally “Sweets or sour.”
  3. Was Süsses raus, sonst spukt’s im Haus. — Literal translation: Something sweet out, otherwise the house will be haunted.
  4. Wir haben leere Taschen und wollen was zu naschen. — Literal translation: We have empty pockets and want something to snack on.

Which tricks do German kids play on Halloween?

Even though they threaten to do so when they roam the streets with their “Süßes, sonst gibt’s Saures” chant, German children hardly ever play tricks. Halloween certainly has become a bigger event in recent years, but many people are still surprised to see children at their front door, demanding sweets. So it is not uncommon for children to leave empty-handed.