Why St. Louis kids need to prepare jokes before trick-or-treating

Missouri

Group of kids with Halloween costumes walking to trick or treating (Getty Images)

ST. LOUIS – Most places give out candy to kids on Halloween without expecting anything in return, but in St. Louis, if your kids want some candy, they need to put in extra work.

It’s not enough to have on a killer costume and a big smile. Kids are expected to tell a joke.

With St. Louis’ unpredictable weather, parents must not only send their kids out into the neighborhood prepared with layers and armed with a treat bucket, but they also must make sure their child has prepared their best material.

Adults behind every door will ask your child for their best joke, and they must be prepared because the keepers of the candy will let them know if they’ve already heard one of your little ones’ jokes earlier in the night. So it is best that they prepare a few.

The adults know the night is all about fun, so no worries if you’re new to the area and your child hasn’t perfected their comedic timing. Your kiddos will not go home empty-handed.

There isn’t a hard and fast reason why the Gateway city has this tradition, but some historians trace it back to Irish immigrants. John Oldani, a professor of American studies and folklore at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville said the tradition stems from the ancient Celtic festival Samhain which celebrated the end of summer. The festival was celebrated on October 31 and November 1.

He is also the author of “St. Lou-isms: Lingo, Lore, and the Lighter Side of Life in the Gateway City,” and he said on a podcast, “The Irish have a big influence in St. Louis. They really don’t come from one area. They moved across the area especially into places like DogTown. They’re the ones that started trick-or-treating. We can go back and talk about how you had to tell a joke or how you had to tell a story before you got a treat, so it was a pleasure-pain principle kind of thing.”

Here are a few jokes your kids could use this year.

  • Why Couldn’t the skeleton cross the road? He had no guts.
  • What’s a vampire’s favorite drink? Bloodveiser.
  • What is a witch’s favorite subject in school? Spelling.
  • Who did Frankenstein take to the dance? His “ghoul” friend

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