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.
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.
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 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.