Why we dress up for Halloween


(PHOTO/Jill Odom)


Jill Odom

Variety Editor


As a kid, Halloween was that special time when you got to dress up, wander around after dark and rack up your year’s supply of candy.

For some people, Halloween candy is the most important part, for others it is getting to carve pumpkins. There is one factor that is always a must, and that is the costumes.

You can be as cheap or as corny as you want, but no self-respecting adult is going to give you candy if you aren’t dressed up.

As you grow older you may see Halloween as a holiday you can no longer participate in, while others look at it as an opportunity to stretch their creativity with a limited budget.

There are tons of do-it-yourself tutorials out there, and thrift stores have a veritable bounty of costume fodder. But why do we do it? Where did the tradition of dressing up and putting on masks for Halloween come from?

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, Halloween is derived from the Celtic holiday, Samhain. It was celebrated Nov. 1 and was considered the end of the summer season. It was also believed that the dead would return to visit their homes during this time.

To avoid being recognized by these spirits, people would wear masks when they left their homes at night so the ghosts would mistake them for fellow souls.

Pope Boniface IV established All Martyrs Day for May 13, and, later on, Pope Gregory III had saints included in the festival and moved it to take place on Nov. 1. The evening of All Saints’ Day became holy or hallowed eve, which morphed into Halloween.

The holiday did not become popular in America until the mid-19th century due to the large number of immigrants during that time, especially the Irish. By the 20th century, Halloween was a popular holiday, particularly with children.

One reason why we continue to dress up for Halloween, even though we are no longer hiding from ghosts, is the fact that costumes give us a chance to become someone or something that is totally unlike ourselves.

“I think people enjoying dressing up for Halloween because it’s a way for us to explore life as someone other than ourselves in a silly, noncommittal way,” said Lauren Wiggins, a sophomore English major from Troy. “I think people will always find an occasion to dress up because we desire opportunities to let our inner child run free.”

Masks serve as something for us to hide behind and try to let our friends guess who is underneath.  Even though the holiday has evolved greatly over time from its original beliefs, costumes have always remained a part of the festival.

“It is a tradition that has been around for quite some time, and I don’t see it going anywhere,” said Sterling Wingard, a junior information systems major from Cape Coral, Fla.

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