Halloween costumes are the costumes that people wear on Halloween. In 1585, Scotland referred to Halloween costumes. However, they could have been worn before then. Many connections to this custom were made in the Celtic nations of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales during the 18th and 19th centuries. The business is said to have originated from the Celtic festivals Samhain and Calan Gaeaf, or the practice of “selling,” during the Christian celebration of Allhallowtide. It is suggested that the Christian tradition of recognizing the Danse Macabre as the origin of Halloween dressing is the source of the custom. However, Christians do not only dress up for Halloween. They also dress up during other holidays, such as Christmas. Halloween costumes have traditionally been based on folkloric or supernatural beings that are frightening. In the 1930s, however, costumes based on characters from mass media, such as films, books, and radio, became popular. Teenagers traditionally wore Halloween costumes, but they have become increasingly popular among adults since the middle of the 20th Century.
History of Halloween costumes
Costumes worn at Halloween result from the belief that the spirits of the dead or supernatural beings roamed the earth during this period. The practice may have originated from a Celtic festival on October 31 to mark winter’s arrival. In Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man, and Brittany, it was known as Samhain, while in Wales, Cornwall, and Brittany, it was Calan Gaeaf. It is thought that the festival has pre-Christian origins. Some of these customs were retained by the Christian celebration of All Hallows’ Eve, which was still called Samhain/Calan Gaeaf in this region after the Christianization in the 5th Century. This was a time when spirits (the Aos Si) and souls of the deceased could quickly enter our world.  The Aos Si was thought to need to be appeased to ensure the people’s and livestock’s survival during the winter.
Since at least the 16th Century, the festival has included mumming or guising, which involves people going from house to house in costume, usually reciting songs or verses in exchange for food. Initially, it may have been a practice where people would impersonate the Aos Si or souls of the deceased and receive offerings on their behalf. It was believed that wearing a disguise or impersonating these beings would protect you from them. The mummers and guisers are said to “personify old winter spirits who asked for reward in exchange for good fortune.” F. Marian McNeill says that the ancient pagan celebration included people wearing costumes or masks to represent spirits and marking faces (or blackening them) with ashes from the sacred fire. In southern Ireland, a woman dressed as a white mare (Lair Bhan) would lead youths from house to house, reciting verses with pagan overtones in exchange for food. The ‘Muck Olla’ would only bring good luck to a household that donated food. Youths in 19th-century England would go house-to-house wearing masks, blackening their faces or painting them, and threatening to cause mischief if not welcomed. In some parts of Wales, men dressed as fearsome creatures called gwrachod. While in other places, young people are cross-dressed. Other European festivals also included mumming, costumes, and different dress forms. In the Celtic-speaking areas, they were “particularly suitable to a night when supernatural beings are said to be abroad. Human wanderers could imitate or ward them off”.
Some people believe that Halloween costumes evolved from selling, a practice of Christians in Western Europe dating back to the 15th Century. Poor people used to collect soul cakes at Allhallowtide. They would either do this as a representation of the dead or in exchange for praying for them. The sellers would ask for “mercy for all Christian souls in exchange for a soulcake.” Shakespeare mentioned the practice in his play The Two Gentlemen of Verona, written in 1593. Christian minister Prince Sorie Conteh wrote about the wearing of costumes. People wear masks or costumes to avoid being recognized by a soul seeking vengeance on their enemies. In the Middle Ages, statues and relics from martyred saints would be paraded in the streets during Allhallowtide.
In churches that could not afford to do this, people dressed as saints. Some Christians still dress as saints, Biblical figures, or reformers for Halloween celebrations. In continental Europe and France, many Christians believed that the dead from the churchyards would rise on Halloween for a wild, hideous festival known as the Danse Macabre. Church decorations often depict this. According to an article in Christianity Today, the Danse Macabre is a tradition performed at village pageants or court masques. People “dressed up as corpses of various social strata,” and this may have been the origins of Halloween costume parties.
In North America, the first time guising was reported in 1911 in a Kingston, Ontario newspaper, children were “guising” in their neighborhood. In the 19th Century, Halloween celebrations in America were often marked by costume parades and “licentious festivities.” Victorian morality was adapted to the “domesticate,” or domesticate, Halloween. Halloween became a private holiday rather than a public one. Celebrations that involved alcohol and sensuality were de-emphasized. Only children were expected to celebrate the festival. Early Halloween costumes were gothic and aimed at children. Costumes could also be made at home or with available items (such as makeup) and used to create one. In the 1930s, A.S. Fishbach, Ben Cooper, Inc., and other companies began mass-producing Halloween costumes sold in stores when trick-or-treating became popular in North America. Halloween costumes often imitate scary and supernatural beings.
Fashion nova halloween costumes are usually those of scary monsters like vampires and werewolves. They can also be zombies, ghosts, or skeletons. Science fiction characters such as aliens and superheroes have been popular in recent years. Costumes of famous cultural figures such as presidents, athletes, or celebrities are also available. Women (and men in some cases) also use Halloween to dress up in revealing or sexy costumes that show more skin than is socially acceptable. Girls often dress up as non-scary characters for Halloween. These include princesses, fairies, animals, flowers, cute creatures, and angels.
Halloween costume parties are usually held on or around October 31, often the weekend before the holiday. Halloween parties are the third most popular in Western countries, behind Super Bowl and New Year’s Eve parties.
Economical Halloween Costumes
A survey conducted by researchers for the National Retail Federation of the United States found that 53.3 percent of consumers planned to purchase a Halloween costume in 2005. They spent an average of $38.11 (up $10 compared to the previous year). In 2006, they were expected to pay an additional 4.96 billion dollars. This is a significant increase from the $3.3 billion spent in 2005. Many Americans have cut back their Halloween spending due to the troubled economy. The National Retail Federation predicted that American households will reduce their Halloween spending by up to 15% in 2009, to $56.31. In 2013, Americans spent approximately $6.9 billion celebrating Halloween. This included $2.6 billion predicted on costumes, with more money spent on adults than children’s costumes. In 2017, Americans were expected to spend $3.4 billion on Halloween costumes. In a survey conducted by NRF, 67% of Halloween shoppers said they would spend $3.2 billion on Halloween costumes in 2019. In 2022, it is estimated that Halloween spending could reach $10 billion.
Politics of Halloween costumes
Fashion nova halloween costumes are often interpreted in terms of political and cultural significance. They can depict things and people from the present day. Halloween costumes that use stereotypical images of other people, such as gypsies or Native Americans, without critical thought are often accused of cultural appropriation. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Secretary Julie Myers became embroiled in a scandal after she gave the “Best Costume Award” at the ICE Halloween party to an ‘escaped Jamaican Prisoner’ wearing dreadlocks and blackface.
History of Halloween costumes, trick or treating, and more
It is thought that “soul,” or asking for “soul cakes,” a sweet similar to biscuits, in exchange for praying for the deceased in purgatory, was an early precursor to trick or treating. Technical note: Soul Cakes originated on All Souls’ Day, celebrated on November 2. As we can see from a description of souling, published in England in 1886, that describes “fantastic costumes” for children, the tradition included dressing up.
Scottish guiding is a secularized form of souling that replaced prayers with tricks. Costumes evolved, too. They took on a frightening turn when young Scottish or Irish pranksters came up with the idea of scaring unsuspecting neighbors.
This evolved into trick-or-treating in the United States. In the early and mid-1900s, families began giving their children candy to make them immune to holiday pranks.
How Halloween arrived in America
Halloween is a top-rated holiday in America but rarely made it to Europe. Puritans disapproved of the holiday because it had pagan roots. They didn’t participate. American colonial celebrations of Halloween included large public gatherings to celebrate the harvest, tell ghost tales, sing and dance, and commemorate the coming harvest.
The holiday became a part of American culture in the second half of the 19th Century when Irish and Scottish immigrants arrived in America. By the early 20th Century, it is estimated that Halloween was celebrated by most North Americans (candy lovers and costume wearers).