top of page


Written by Temitope Ibironke '27


From Celtic traditions to lingerie and animal ears, Halloween costumes have had quite an evolution from their origins to the present-day. 


Modern-day celebrations of Halloween in the United States are rooted in Celtic pagan tradition. The Celts celebrated Samhain on the last day of October. This festival marked the end of the harvest season and was the period of time where the barriers between the physical and spiritual world came down; as such, dead spirits could visit the living. As a part of the celebration, people would dress up to celebrate or ward off wandering spirits. Even as Christianity spread, certain elements of the pagan tradition remained — costumes included.  

As Halloween first began to spread across America, people embraced its ancient roots. Just as Samhain centered around death and the afterlife,

the American holiday became similarly focused on the spookiness of the season, emphasizing the supernatural origins of Halloween. The costumes were also linked to these superstitions and ghost stories; as such, many chose genuinely horrifying costumes meant to scare others. 


With increasing technology and the dissemination of information, music, movies, and other forms of media became more popular and in turn influenced the types of costumes people chose to wear. Halloween costumes’ connection to death weakened, and the holiday became more of a family friendly event. Nowadays, people dress up to pay homage to their favorite character or to reference something in pop culture, such as imitating Halloween costumes found in popular films. Ultimately, Halloween costumes have grown to represent creativity and humor, a far cry from their supernatural origins.

bottom of page