Halloween Costumes

Our culture loves to sell us the hottest costumes for that night out on the town.  It’s arguably the only night of the year where we are culturally expected to don a costume for all to see.  Or at the least, the only day when people won’t give you a second glance for dressing up like your favorite superhero.  But why do we do this? Where does the Halloween costume come from? 


Most scholars agree that the tradition of costumes originates from Ireland and Scotland. It became customary to wear costumes, or guises, by the late 19th century.  In Celtic tradition the festival of Samhain, meaning “summer’s end,” was held on the last day of autumn.  It was a time of harvesting and storing.  People prepared for the frigid winter months to come.   It was also the time of year when supernatural beings and physical beings were closest.  Magical events took place.  The souls of the dead could again return to visit their homes and families.  Religious practices like sacrifices and fire rituals were used to ward off these spirits. Whether of not masks or costumes, in the customary sense, were used at that time is uncertain, but likely.  What we do know is that they wore Halloween costumes before anyone in the US, and as such it should be to their credit. [5314]


In the US, the costume tradition wasn’t introduced until the early 20th century, when it became popular to wear costumes during the Halloween season.  It wasn’t until the 1930’s that we saw mass-produced costumes being made.  This was around the same time that trick-or-treating Halloween Costumes(115304)became popular amongst young children across the country.  Ever since, wearing costumes hasbecome an American past time of it’s own.  Halloween costumes have become a symbol of the season. We’ve expanded the holiday past just devils, evil spirits and ghosts to include popular fictional characters and celebrity impersonators.



The leaves are changing, the wind is howling, and the ghosts are restless in their graves.  Old man winter begins to rear his frosty face.  We think about the long lost days of summer with fondness, and often with a tinge of regret. Skeletons litter shop windows and giant inflatable cats hang out on the neighbor’s lawn yet again.  It’s that time of the year again.  Halloween marks a change in season, the harvest concludes.  We are getting ready for another host of parties.  We are getting ready for a night filled with costumes.