The History Of Halloween Costumes

Luke Ward
2 Minutes Read

Original Halloween costumes were often made of animal skins or hides to give the illusion of a wild animal.

    Halloween, as we celebrate it today, is the culmination of more than a thousand years of cultural evolution.

    While there are many fascinating facts about Halloween and Halloween lore, perhaps none are more interesting than those that pertain to Halloween costumes.

    These days, you’re likely to see a motley collection of fire-fighters, football players, clowns, and, of course, scary monsters.

    In the UK, the change of seasons at the end of October can bring unpredictable changes.

    Greyscale photo of a group of people wearing horrifying costumes.

    Shorter days, colder weather and the need to consume more calories to make it through the impending winter were all factors that coincided with Halloween.

    Combine this reality with the belief that ghosts returned to earth on Halloween, and you can see our European ancestors had a real conundrum: the need to go out in the dark paired with a fear of ghosts.

    The solution: Leave the house in disguise!

    Early Halloween costumes, then, were more a matter of survival and less a matter of entertainment, like the Halloween costume of today.

    As such, these costumes were made often made of animal skins or hides to give the illusion of a wild animal, as opposed to a human.

    Another popular option was to wear scary masks.

    Someone wearing a terrifying witch mask.

    The idea behind wearing a scary mask was that, in the event of being encountered by a ghost, the ghost would see the scary mask and mistake the person wearing it for a fellow ghoul.

    In Colonial America, where the changing of seasons is similar to the changes in the UK, the spread of Halloween to America was seamless.

    The influence of Native Americans and Native American lore, however, added a new element to Halloween costumes in America.

    The integration of face paint into costumes began to increase, as did the variety of animal skins used in costumes.

    From that point in history, Halloween costumes have followed a predictable course parallel to the cultures in which they evolve, which allows for unique differences in Halloween costumes in contemporary societies.


    What Halloween costumes will look like years from now, however, is anybody’s guess.

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About The Author

Luke Ward
Luke Ward

Luke Ward is the owner of The Fact Site. He has over 14 years of experience in researching, informative writing, fact-checking, SEO & web design. In his spare time, he loves to explore the world, drink coffee & attend trivia nights.

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