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A Brief History of Halloween Costumes

Traditional Halloween as we know today started about one hundred years ago. Long before children dressed up as their favorite spooky characters, adults dressed up for elaborate Halloween parties known as Masquerades. The first Halloween costumes weren’t even available in stores until around the 1930’s.

Halloween gets its roots from a few early traditions. It is loosely tied to the Gaelic holiday of Samhain, which is a festival marking the end of a bountiful harvest and the beginning of winter, which then was known as the “dark half” of the year. This was also the time of year Catholics celebrated All Saints Day, also known as All Hallows Eve or Hallowmas. Both of these traditions symbolized a closeness to the spirit world and created an interest in witchcraft and paganism.  The influx of Irish immigrants in the mid-19th century brought a mix of these traditions with them into the United States. Studying these two holidays, it is no wonder then how Halloween has evolved into what we know today.

Fear is the only emotion in which we use all five of our senses at once. Because of this, many people actually enjoy the physical sensation that comes from being scared. Hollywood was quick to jump on this psychological need for fear. Early movies like Nosferatu and Wolfman gave life to some of our darkest fears and were the inspiration behind scary Halloween costumes.

Halloween became a night when people would do things that they normally wouldn’t do get others’ attention. After the “sexual revolution” in the 1970’s is when America really started to show some skin on Halloween. Celebrities, feminists, and gay pride activists used Halloween as an acceptable time to make a bold statement with their bodies.

On the other end of the spectrum, Halloween lovers who wanted to make an impression began to create overly gory costumes. These costumes made their appearance during the 1980’s as violent horror movies gained popularity.

There are many speculations about the true origins of Halloween. But no matter how this spooky holiday came to be, it is hard not to be captivated by the magical night.  So if you are purchasing a costume from a shop, or making your own this year, Banasch’s has the supplies you need to make your costume just right.