History of Halloween Costumes

Have you ever wondered where the idea of dressing up for Halloween, or the idea for Halloween in general came from? After all, it is kind of an odd tradition. Children dress up in costumes, pretending to be someone else and then “threaten” to play a trick on their neighbors, unless they receive some candy.

The tradition of Halloween goes back to an ancient Celtic custom. As far back as the 5th century B.C. Celtic tribes in Ireland believed that the spirits of the dead were allowed to come back to earth once a year on October 31st. The Celtic New Year began on November 1st and the belief was that, on the night before the border between the world of the living and that of the dead became blurred. The spirits of the dead would then be able to cross over for this one night into the world of the living.

People were afraid of what the spirits may do to them, so they started to dress up to disguise themselves. They would roam the streets in these disguises trying to fool the spirits into believing that they weren’t living beings. Of course the costumes weren’t nearly as elaborate as they are today, and were usually scary costumes. People would wear rags and smear ashes on their faces to disguise themselves and keep the spirits of the dead away.

The tradition of Halloween came to the United States in 1840, with the arrival of a group of Irish immigrants. From there it slowly evolved into our modern day version of Halloween, with kids dressing up as Dora the Explorer ™ and Power Rangers ™, pretending to be their favorite TV characters.

While the spirit of Halloween and the meaning behind it have changed over the centuries, it is still a holiday that allows us to pretend to be someone else, by dressing down in rags and blackening our face to hide it, or by wearing a fancy costume with a mask, or using face paint to disguise our appearance.

Would you like to quickly make creative Halloween costumes that you and your children will be proud of -- for a fraction of the price of store-bought? Susanne Myers has co-authored a book to show you how -- no sewing involved. Visit to learn more.


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