Of the many best loved traditions in America, the donning of costumes is at the top of the list. Many, many years ago, in times past, adults began dressing in elaborate costumes for Halloween parties, also known as Masquerade parties, long before it became an annual event for children. Dressing up in Halloween costumes is a recent tradition that developed in the twentieth century. The first store bought Halloween costumes were not available before the 1930’s.
With the holiday being very loosely based on old Celtic legends about the closeness between the mundane world and that of the spirits at this time of year and the Catholic Church’s celebration of their saints, it is no wonder that Halloween costumes have taken on a rather macabre appearance.
The modern Halloween holiday is loosely based on the old Celtic holiday, Samhain, when the veil between the “real” world and the spirit world was considered to be very thin. There is little wonder why Halloween costumes have a creepy and spooky, or even down-right frightening appearance.
With the advent of Hollywood movies beginning to appear all over the country around this time, actors like Lon Chaney, known for his Wolf-Man character and Bela Lugosi, who brought to life the vampire Count Dracula, gave the country the perfect creepy inspiration for Halloween costumes.
Witches, blood thirsty vampires, moaning ghosts, vicious werewolves and many other frightening monsters became the popular choices of trick or theaters every where. Thus the American idea of a creepy Halloween was born. Dressing in costumes gives one the opportunity to “let their hair down” and be someone else for a while, all in good fun of course.
With the increasing popularity of “tricks or treats”, children soon joined the adults in costumes and before long Halloween night was filled with spooky, creepy, frightening, or even funny and cute costumed folks going door to door begging for goodies.
Some enterprising business person saw the marketing possibilities for Halloween costumes and soon there was much more available than just frightening monsters. A veritable plethora of pirates, fairies, clowns and superheroes, such as Batman and Superman began showing up alongside more traditional costumes. This idea continues to develop with the changing times and current costume trends include firefighters and police officers as well as various military uniforms from around the world and historical outfits like Roman soldiers or even a medieval Knight.