The custom of wearing costumes and masks at Halloween goes back to Celtic traditions of attempting to copy the evil spirits or placate them. In Scotland, for instance, the dead were impersonated by young men with masked, veiled or blackened faces dressed in white.
Costuming became popular for Halloween parties in America in the early 1900's for adults and children alike. The first mass-produced Halloween costumes appeared in stores in the 1930s, when trick-or-treating was becoming popular in the United States.
What sets Halloween costumes apart from costumes for other celebrations or days of dressing up is that they are often designed to imitate supernatural and scary beings. Costumes are traditionally those of monsters such as vampires, ghosts, skeletons, witches, and devils, or in more recent years such science fiction-inspired characters as aliens and superheroes. There are also costumes of pop culture figures like presidents, athletes, celebrities, or film, television, and cartoon characters. Another popular trend is for women (and in some cases, men) to use Halloween as an excuse to wear sexy or revealing costumes, showing off more skin than would be socially acceptable otherwise.
According to The National Retail Federation’s (NRF) 2008 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, the top Halloween costumes for children in the United States in 2008 were:
- 1. Princess (generic) 6. Star Wars Character
- 2. Witch 7. Pumpkin / Jack-o'-lantern
- 3. Hannah Montana 8. Batman
- 4. Spider-Man 9. Disney Princess
- 5. Pirate 10. Ghost / Athlete
The top Halloween costumes for adults in the same year were:
- 1. Witch 6. Batman/ Political figure
- 2. Pirate 7. Ghost
- 3. Vampire 8. Angel
- 4. Cat 9. Clown/ Wench or vixen
5. Fairy/ Nurse 10. Athlete/ French Maid/ Queen
***Publisher: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.