Why say Trick or Treat when you can quote Shakespeare?

Depending on where you live, Halloween is right around the corner. As always, many of us are making last minute costumes or trying to assess just how much trick or treat candy we will need this year. I know I keep eyeing the large bag I have, wondering if it will be enough or if by the end of the night, I’ll be sneaking handfuls of candy into burned out neighborhood pumpkins just to get rid of the chocolate temptations. This is about the extent of my Halloween tricks, though it is fun to watch the guy across the street gingerly pick up his pumpkin in awe and then in horror as he realizes there is more damn candy for his boys!

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays; it’s a wonderful excuse to dress up and pretend to be someone else. When I am not dressing up for a party I do enjoy the army of children that stop by. There is always one or two homemade costumes that brings to mind Halloween of old, when stores did not sell ready made masks and flimsy outfits.

I realize a lot of my readers are not aware that store bought costumes are fairly modern or that the first ones, designed in the late 1930, were made out of paper. These paper costumes did not go over too well with the public as they were extremely flammable. So leery was the public that store bought costumes did not really catch on until the 60’s and even then, you were more likely to see homemade costumes on children.

Did you also know that the phrase, “Trick or treat” started out as a veiled threat? I won’t go into the history of the term, you can find a great article on in here, thanks to the History channel but in brief, the term was used to remind folks that chaos would ensue if treats were not freely given.

As I thought about the phrase “Trick or treat” and vintage costumes, it occurred to me that we could really shake things up by going, old, old school this year. Why not bring back creepy homemade costumes and instead of crying “trick or treat”, why not quote Shakespeare? I mean, really, if you want better treats than “fun size” chocolate bars, shouldn’t you put some work into your costume and demands? Let’s see some effort kids! To help you out, I give you seven Shakespeare quotes you can use.


That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain.


Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing
To what I shall unfold.


Do not forget. This visitation
Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose.


Henry IV

Art thou not horribly afraid? doth not thy blood thrill at it?


The Tempest

Hell is empty, and all the devils are here!



Fair is foul, and foul is fair Hover through the fog and filthy air

enhanced-29512-1411407701-1And my very favorite:

By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.




Author: sarij

I'm a writer, lifelong bibliophile ,and researcher. I hold a Bachelors in Humanities & History and a Master's in Humanities. When I'm not reading or talking about Shakespeare or history, you can usually find me in the garden discussing science or politics with my cat.

5 thoughts on “Why say Trick or Treat when you can quote Shakespeare?”

  1. “Art thou not horribly afraid? doth not thy blood thrill at it?” is my favourite of the ones you quote, Sari! A great selection, both quotations and picture (themselves eminently suitable for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children).

    As for Trick or Treat, I believe the traditional custom in Britain used to be called Mischief Night, principally an excuse to create mayhem after dark for unsuspecting householders. Even if you gave a treat you were likely to be the victim of something unpleasant …

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The History Channel did a great episode on the history of Halloween. I was surprised to learn just how much damage the kids did. Even in America during the 20’s kids would destroy property all in the name of “fun”. I am really surprised the holiday was allowed to continue.

      Liked by 2 people

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