History of the Halloween Costume
- ArticlesandContent.com (CIRCA 2005)
- Oct 8, 2021 (written 2005)
Halloween is traditionally celebrated on October 31 and it is a time when children and adults will dress up as different characters and go trick or treating.
The origins of Halloween dates back to around 2000 years ago in England when the Celts marked the end of the harvest period and the beginning of the winter. This time was known as Samhain and it was thought that the boundaries that separated the dead and the living became blurred.
In order for people to keep away evil spirits at this time they would sacrifice animals and wear costumes. These costumes were designed to protect the wearers from the dead and were designed to be as gruesome as possible. Early Halloween costumes were always home-made and people would spend a great deal of time perfecting theirs in time for Halloween.
Early Halloween Costumes
As mentioned these early Halloween costumes were not pleasant to look at as they were intended to scare spirits away. Most of these costumes were made from animal skins and many would wear animal heads as masks. Others would simply fashion masks from plants, skins and trees and make them look as evil as possible. Even when the Romans occupied parts of Great Britain and other areas where the Celts lived this Halloween traditional remained.
The Romans celebrated to festivals around the time of Halloween – one was to remember the dead and the other was to celebrate the Roman goddess of the trees. The Romans were very keen on wearing costumes during celebrations and their costumes for these festivals were incredibly elaborate.
Popular Early Halloween Costumes
There are different Halloween traditions in various parts of England, Scotland and Wales regarding traditional Halloween costumes which include:
Irish Halloween costumes – here a man who was dressed in white robes with a horse’s head made from wood in his hand would lead a group of people who were also dressed up. They would proceed through villages until they had reached an area set out for a feast.
Scottish Halloween costumes – these centered round people dressing up as beggars who were also known as skelkets. The aim of these costumes was to haunt people’s imaginations and terrified them.
Welsh Halloween costumes – the early costumes were quite simple and would often involve girls dressing as boys and vice versa.
Costumes In The 1930s
The idea of wearing costumes that Halloween is all part of the history of Halloween. By the 1930s this tradition had spread to America and the early Halloween costumes that were commonplace had moved on to significantly. While people would still create their own costumes at home there was now a large market for commercially made Halloween costumes.
Unlike early Halloween costumes these wear designed around many themes and people would dress up as any type of character. Today there are countless stores selling Halloween costumes and few really relate back to the early Halloween costumes that were worn 2000 years ago.