With 6 billion dollars spent yearly Halloween is big business in America and a lot of that cash is spent on costumes. The kids all want to be their favorite cartoon character, some are a vampire for yet another year and others are look for a costume that’s just offensive enough to be funny. But where did the practice of dressing up as ghosts and monsters even come from?
In 606 ad pope Boniface the fifth created the holiday all martyrs day to be celebrated in May. Pope Gregory the third decided that November 1st was a better date probably to make it more appealing to pagan converts, he called this new holiday all saints day. At this time many Celtic pagans were converting to Christianity and they had a holiday called Samhain which was their day of the dead. Part of the Samhain festivities included bonfires, feasting and dressing up as spirits to blend in with those of the dead coming back. The Catholic Church decided hey that looks like fun and after adding a slight Christian bent incorporated the traditions into all saints day which would later become Halloween.
While Halloween was celebrated in catholic enclaves in America it was really the Irish immigrants of the potato famine that in the late 18 hundreds made Halloween and the practice of tricker treating popular. Since the 16th century the tradition of guising or dressing up in costumes and repeating pomes for cake and treats was popular in Ireland as part of all saints day. At the turn of the century Halloween had become a day for the whole town to get together and towns would hold large Halloween parties and parades. A newspaper in Canada has the first reference to kid’s tricker treating in North America in 1911.
Early costumes were of skeletons, devils, and fairy tale characters and were often hand made by the kids themselves or their parents. By 1915 paper costumes were being sold in stores and in 1930 Sears was selling Halloween costumes for kids in its stores. With the popularity of comic books and invention of TV in the 50’s super heroes and popular show characters replaced the goblins and ghosts of the past. Now anime characters and realty stars are common costume ideas. Even pets are getting in on the game.
With over 50% of Americans wearing costumes who knows what costumes will be popular or possible in the future with increasing technology. Personally I’m still a fan of make your own costumes dressing up as a hobo or a serial killer is just tons of fun. So tell us in the comments what you’re going as this Halloween and remember to have a fun and safe Halloween.