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Why Dress Up On Halloween?

Sep 2, 2007
When people think of Halloween they think fancy dress costumes, trick or treating, pumpkins and ghost stories. Just like any other holiday that we celebrate the true meaning has been forgotten and most people don't even know how these traditions started.

Halloween is one of the most fun customs celebrated around the world. For children it's all about dressing up and getting as many sweets as possible and for adults it's all about dressing up and having a drink or two. Note the common occurrence is dressing up - a practice that is hundreds of years old and is still performed to this day. What is it about fancy dress costumes that gets everyone so excited and why do we actually dress up on Halloween?

The word Halloween derives from the term "All Hallows Eve" which occurred the night before All Hallows Day and was a Roman Catholic holiday that celebrated the saints. However, even before people started celebrating All Hallows Day, the Celtic Irish celebrated the 31st October as the New Year. It was believed that on the eve of this day the spirits of the recently deceased would re - enter the bodies of the living for a chance of an afterlife.

Naturally scared and fearing for their souls, the Celts would turn off all the lights in their houses, dress up in scary costumes and cause mayhem in the town in an attempt to scare the spirits away. This theory was so popular that the Roman Catholics later adopted these practices as their own making them even more popular and widespread. However, over the years spirit possession became less popular and people started dressing up as witches, goblins and demons in a more ceremonial manner.

It is a common misconception that Halloween is an American holiday. However, traditions such as fancy dress costumes and ghosts weren't introduced in America until the famous potato famine which hit Ireland in the 1840s. Desperately seeking refuge many Irish residents fled to America taking their Halloween celebrations with them.

Even though people now celebrate Halloween very differently to how they did many centuries ago, people all over the world still dress up in fancy dress costumes at Halloween today. Many believe that dressing up is a tribute to the devil when in fact the exact opposite is the case as it was originally started as an attempt to save peoples' souls from demons and to celebrate the saints.
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