Halloween is the holiday that kids look forward to all year long. It’s a night of magic and mystery—a night where you can literally transform and dress up as any character you’d like. Kids embrace this holiday because of the fun, thrills, and candy. Many adults like dressing up for Halloween as well, whether it’s trick-or-treating with the kids or celebrating at a costume party.
The history of this ghoulish night dates back
to the ancient Celtic holiday Samhaim
Halloween was celebrated by the Celts as a way to mark the end of the harvest season and the start of winter. The Celts believed that the transition between the two seasons provided a bridge to the “world of the dead.”
Nowadays, Halloween still has a theme of frightful fun, often coupled with family-friendly activities. The modern-day pagan celebration is not complete without candy, parties, crafts, parades, and especially costumes.
Halloween costumes date as far back as 800 B.C
The Celts believed that wearing a mask would help to ward off evil spirits in the harvest festivities.
The Halloween “frights” further evolved in the first century when Samhain Festival revelers wore costumes made of animal heads and skins and danced around bonfires.
It wasn’t until the 16th century that “Halloween” was
officially adopted as part of the English language
Just a few centuries later, children in Scotland and Ireland began
to wear scary “disguises” in the form of costumes.
These festive kids went door-to-door asking for food and coins as early trick-or-treating
Spooky Halloween parties picked up steam at the turn of the 20th century, where children attended costume parties dressed as ghosts, goblins, and witches to play apple-bobbing and fortune-telling games.
Trick-or-treating in costume was an American pastime by 1934, when the term was first used in print.
Major Halloween characters over the past 200 years, including Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in 1818, Brahm Stoker’s Dracula in 1887, Boris Karloff’s The Mummy in 1932, and Friday the 13th’s Jason in 1980, inspired iconic costumes that are still worn today.
Halloween costumes are directly influenced by pop culture and tradition.
The classic Halloween witch costume is a nod to the infamous witch-hunts of the 1600s, when fear of witchcraft spread through colonial Massachusetts. Pirate costumes have roots in the 18th century, when young men traveled across treacherous seas to find wealth and riches in a new land. Rootin’ tootin’ cowboy costumes come from the Wild West of the 19th century, popularized again in the 20th century by famous on-screen cowboys like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood.
Each decade of the 20th century has its own costume inspiration—flappers from the 1920s, greasers from the 1950s, rockers from the 1980s, and superheroes from the 2000s.
Here are a few little-known facts about Halloween
Ireland is considered the birthplace of Halloween.
Dressing in costume started in the Celtic Samhain Festival when townsfolk would dress as spirits and ghouls to blend in with the dead who walked the earth.
The famous Michael Myers Halloween mask from the 1978 movie Halloween was actually a cheap William Shatner Star Trek mask purchased within the film’s small budget.
Halloween is the second highest grossing commercial holiday, next to Christmas.
The idea of trick-or-treating came from the ancient Celtic tradition of putting out food and treats as an offering for roaming spirits.
Popular Halloween costume colors: Orange symbolizes strength and endurance; black marks death and darkness.
The 1950s culture shifted the ghoulish trick-or-treating image to candy, costumes, and wholesome family fun.
The largest costumed Halloween parade is the Village Halloween Parade in New York City, drawing over 50,000 participants and 2 million spectators.
The U.S. isn’t the only country that celebrates All Hallows’ Eve
Día de los Muertos is a three-day celebration in Mexico, Latin America, and Spain, from October 31 to November 2. Translated as Day of the Dead, the celebration honors the deceased with altars, costumes, candies, gifts, and rituals.
In Ireland, where the tradition of Halloween began, costumed neighborhood trick-or-treating can be found, similar to the U.S. Halloween was seen as an American holiday in France until the 1990s; it is now celebrated with costume parties and special events. In recent years, Americanized trick-or-treating has even spread to England as children don their favorite costumes door-to-door.
top 10 Most Popular Halloween Costumes
A great Halloween costume is three things—iconic, recognizable, and unforgettable.
Tim Burton is the master of Halloween, and Beetlejuice is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
If you can pull off this ghoulish Tim Burton character with wild hair, a pale face, black lips, and—of course—scissors for hands, the costume contest prize is in the bag.
Every red-blooded American wanted to be Indiana Jones at one point or another. The epic costume is deceptively simple— put it together with a rugged hat, a leather jacket, a whip, and perhaps a five o’clock shadow.
Batman’s Joker costume is another crowd favorite because of its creepy simplicity—become this character with that signature green and purple suit, untamed hair, and smeared Joker face paint.
Take your pick from Hannah Montana or the more controversial Wrecking Ball deviant, and you’re guaranteed to turn heads at your Halloween bash.
The Scream Grim Reaper costume is easily one of the most disturbing Halloween depictions of all time. Don’t forget your oversized slasher knife.
This costume is so good that it requires a friend to execute. Two vacant-eyed girls, two matching dresses, and too much blood—and you’ll scare any soul that crosses your path.
Have some fun on Halloween by channeling the 1980s. Dye your hair a bright, vibrant color and mousse it into a peak. Put on the finishing touch with an authentic troll jewel in your belly button.
The Twilight tween-sensation movie saga from the late 2000s has inspired romantic-Gothic vampire costumes for decades to come.
Thanks to the popularity of The Walking Dead, zombie Halloween costumes are back with a vengeance. Zombie Halloween gear may never die, pun intended, since you can literally “zombify” anything—try a zombie cheerleader, a zombie Tinker Bell, or a zombie baby to keep trick-or-treaters on their toes.
10 DIY Halloween Costumes
Answering Your Last-Minute Costume S.O.S.
If you’re looking for a quick fix for your Halloween snafu, you can use these
last-minute costume ideas to throw something impressive together:
Bag of Jellybeans
If you have a clear trash bag and colored balloons on hand, this clever costume is easy to make.
An old black umbrella plus all-black clothing from head-to-toe equals an extraordinary bat ensemble.
The classic ghost costume made out of a cut-up white sheet is incredibly simple.
The perfect throw-together costume for a party—long skirt, flowing blouse, scarf around the head, and lots of jewelry.
An adorable costume for a grown-up or a child—take any red dress or top and glue on black felt circles. Pair with black tights and black shoes, and voila!
Everyone’s favorite nanny is easy to recreate with a white button-down shirt, black skirt, bow tie, bowler hat—and of course, an open umbrella.
Channel your inner MJ with a statement hat, skinny jeans, a flamboyant top, and a single glove—extra points for glitter.
Raining Cats and Dogs
This adorably easy costume will make you say, “Awww.” Dress your child (or yourself) up in your favorite rain gear and decorate your umbrella liberally with stuffed cats and dogs.
It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it… Dress up like Clark Kent with a Superman T-shirt, white button-down, tie, and glasses.
Where’s Waldo? This costume is remarkably easy if you have oversized glasses, a camera, jeans, and a striped shirt lying around.