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Hallowe’en actually originated over 2,000 years ago with a Celtic festival called Samhain (pronounced “sow-in”) which was associated with the belief that ghosts of the dead would cause trouble on October 31st. People burned crops and sacrificed animals to the Celtic gods, hence the first costumes made from animal skins and heads were created. Enter the Romans, and later Christians, who mixed in their own customs which introduced costumes of angels, saints and devils.

Today’s Hallowe’en has been influenced by many cultures who believed they could avoid being recognized by the ghosts if they wore masks. They also placed bowls of food outside their homes to satisfy the ghosts and prevent them from entering the home. Others made their rounds to the homes of the rich to ask for money and food. They would threaten them with “evil spirits” if the rich did not give into the demands. 

While dressing in costumes for this day dates back thousands of years, the first store-bought Hallowe’en costumes were not available before the 1930’s. Today we see an insurgence of costumes inspired by popular culture, from Keanu Reeve’s Matrix character to Bela Lugosi’s Count Dracula to David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor. These costumes allow people of all ages to dress the part at Hallowe’en, thereby inspiring to become a different sort of character.

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