History of Halloween Costume


Credit: Historic Photo Archive/Getty Images

Photo taken in 1905 of a person wearing a ghost costume in a rural schoolhouse. Credit: Historic Photo Archive/Getty Images

Lua Rosado Perez, Staff Reporter

The birth of Halloween costumes dates back to the late 15th century in Ireland. The start of Halloween costumes came from superstitious and religious beginnings. The tradition of costumes began with the Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts celebrated the days October 31st and November 1st as a day where it marked the end of harvest and the start of a long, cold winter and was thought to be a night where ghosts of the dead came to earth. The idea of costume wearing during this festival was to ward off spirits. The idea of wearing costumes on October 31st started as a religious concept but over time turned into a concept of dressing up as whoever and whatever we want and to go trick or treating. 

As Irish immigrants came to escape the potato famine, Halloween began to take root in America. The earliest costume themes were those of ghosts, witches, and devils. The very first semblance of pop culture in any way was the first cartoon character costume in the 1930s,the Mickey Mouse Mask, by Ben Cooper Inc. In the 1950s and 60s, more and more families could afford television sets and watch popular television shows. The interest in dressing up as TV characters grew. The most popular costumes at this time were Cowboy and Western costumes. By the time of the 1970s and 80s, horror movies were being associated with Halloween, thanks to the movie, Halloween. This came with people dressing with bloody costumes. By the late 20th century, Halloween nationalized and became a celebrated holiday across the entire country. The 20th century also increased the commercialization of Halloween costumes across the nation with Sears hosting a Halloween section in the 80s. By the 21st century, Halloween is in the Top 3 Holidays people across the United States celebrate. We still wear scary costumes and outfits inspired by Pop Culture and people are still creating new ways to express themselves on this special day.