Tradition of Dressing in Costume

Tradition of Dressing in Costume

Costumes range from simple homemade disguises to elaborate store-bought likenesses of characters from cartoons, motion pictures, and television. Costumes of ghosts, witches, devils, and other mysterious creatures are also popular. The neighbors, to avoid having tricks played on them, give the children candy and other treats. Children carry bags or plastic buckets to collect the candy. Trick-or-treating usually occurs late in the day or after dark on Halloween. Homeowners turn on their porch lights as a sign that treats are available.

Adults sometimes wore costumes when they begged house-to-house for a Halloween feast. In County Cork, Ireland, a man wearing a white robe and holding a wooden horse's head led the group. In parts of Scotland, costumed beggars out on Halloween were known as skeklets. In Wales, boys dressed as girls and girls dressed as boys to go house-to-house singing Halloween rhymes.

Halloween costumes were popularized in the United States by adults in the late 1800's. By the early 1900's, however, Halloween costumes were worn mainly by children. Some of the first children's costumes were fairies, Gypsies, and burglars. In the 1950's, factory-made costumes of popular figures from movies and television appeared. Store-bought costumes have since become popular among both children and adults.