Dressing up in unique Halloween costumes is almost as exciting as Christmas morning. Where did we ever get the idea to don outlandish outfits one night a year to win prizes, march in parades or perform tricks for treats? Let’s have a look into the root origins of this spooky, scary tradition.
Believe it or not, the first Halloween costumes were actually animal skins and heads.
Perhaps 2000 years ago in what is now known as the United Kingdom, Ireland and northern France, the Celts recognized and celebrated Samhain as their new year on November 1. It marked the end of summer and harvest and the beginning of winter. Since winter was a cold, dark time in that area of the world, the Celts associated it with death and believed that on the night before Samhain the line between the living and the dead was confused.
The Celts believed and celebrated the night of October 31 as the time when ghosts of the dead were returned to earth to cause trouble and generally disrupt the community. They dressed in animal skins and heads to tell each others’ fortunes. Crops were burned and animals sacrificed to the Celtic Gods in huge bonfires built by Celtic priests. When the celebration ended, each Celt family lit their hearth fires from the sacred bonfires to protect them during the long, hard winter.
Eventually over the years, the Celtic traditions intermingled with the Roman and Christian beliefs leading us to what we now call Halloween.
Our unique Halloween costumes have certainly come a long way from animal skins and heads. Thank goodness! Our traditional outfits can now range from a bed sheeted ghost to an extravagantly gowned, glamorous movie actress. Kids can dress in old clothes and call themselves hobos or venture out for candy with only a presidential mask on. We march and parade in astronaut suits, military regalia, cowboy outfits, football uniforms and even as book characters. The options for a great disguise are endless now thanks to the beginning legacy of those first eerie Celtic traditions.