Origin of Halloween Costumes

Remember when we were kids and that we had a great time donning those Halloween costumes that we made our parents buy or rent for us? We’d gang up with the rest of the neighborhood kids and go around screaming “trick-or-treat!” like there was no tomorrow, leaving our voices hoarse the next day. Well, we have experienced it… we let our kids practice it…but do we really know the origin of putting on Halloween costumes in the first place?

Some of us may already know but for the benefit of those who don’t – here’s the story:

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The origin of the celebration can be traced back to ancient Celtics. They had a feast called Samhain which was a festival held during the end of the harvest season and which is also the Celtic New Year.

According to Celtic beliefs, during this time of the year, the spirits of the dead would go up to the surface world and try to posses living bodies for the year to come. To prevent their bodies from being possessed, Celts would light bonfires and dress up in all sorts of morbid costumes just to discourage the spirits of the dead from entering their bodies.

Photo by Jens Mahnke from Pexels

However, the practice of wearing Halloween costumes in America can be traced to only as recent as the 1900’s. It was in or around the 1930’s that Halloween costumes began to be mass produced. The typical costumes that people rent or make today are vampires, ghosts, ghouls, demons, witches, and skeletons.

Funny children in carnival costumes on halloween. Halloween party with pumpkins.

Even if it is the night that evil is supposed to surface, “good” costumes are also a common choice among children and adults alike. In fact, princess, fairy and angel costumes often times make it to the top ten list of top Halloween costumes.

Also popular are pop culture costumes which mimic famous personalities, fictional characters, celebrities, and even politicians have an equal share in exposures during Halloween. Women, no thanks to commercial advertising, have also found this a good time to wear sexy outfits to show off their bodies and sexual prowess. But that is a topic for a different blog post…

Superhero Kids Aspiration Imagination Playful Fun Concept

Other costumes that seem to be a popular choice are clowns, nurses, cats, and the basic Halloween symbol – the pumpkin. Superhero characters are also fast becoming popular costumes no thanks to the “comics to movie” fever that has hit the silver screen in recent years. The demand for new and modern costumes has made costume makers and costume rental companies a lot of money.

The fact that costumes for Halloween celebration have become so varied that the modern tradition has overshadowed the earlier tradition which was to mimic the supernatural, the ghoulish being, or basically the scary stuff.

Photo by Gabby K from Pexels

Nevertheless, who are we to keep traditions from adapting to the modern times? Things will always evolve, that’s just how things naturally work. We can’t simply insist on wearing only scary stuff during Halloween. Creativity will play a role in this aspect and people will always crave new things.

So not withstanding the darker origins of wearing Halloween costumes, we and our children and their children will continue to celebrate this day for as long as there are candies to share and creativity to spare.

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