Halloween Costumes of Old

Day 21: Customs and Traditions.

This post is going to be on the shorter side, as its main goal is to start a discussion. I’d love to hear all of your thoughts on the subject I am about to write about, and your reasoning behind this phenomenon.

Homemade, vintage, Halloween costumes from the early 1900s are terrifying.

I’m sure you’ve come across those olden photo galleries online while browsing costume ideas one late night.

So I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there has been a clear shift in costumes sold in stores like Party City and Spirit of Halloween. People rarely make their own monstrosities to show up at social gatherings in to scare their friends. Don’t get me wrong – there are those who are determined to keep the spookier of Samhain traditions alive.

I wholeheartedly applaud them.

But for the majority, especially teenagers, there are no options for the spooky. Most (average Americans, at least) don’t have any sort of sewing or cloth making abilities salve a late night YouTube video tutorial. When I was a teenager and wanted to dress up during my senior year of high school, I had nothing but “slutty” (insert blank character) get ups to choose from.

I wanted to be Robin Hood, but I had to be Robyn da Hood; cleavage leaving nothing to imagine. I wanted to be a cave girl, but the dress length wouldn’t hide my back-end boulders.

I thought hey, a bumble bee would be safe – but alas, it was not.

Ultimately, I decided on being a piece of candy corn of all things. I don’t even like that candy. I don’t think anyone does. But just like tootsie rolls, they still exist somehow.

Adult Candy Corn Halloween Costume (photo from Walmart website)
Adult Candy Corn Halloween Costume (photo from Walmart website)

It was the safest bet of all the costumes, which allowed me to wear leggings underneath without the ensemble looking totally idiotic.  

Halloween is now about being the one time a girl can dress “as slutty as she wants” and no one can say anything. Yes, that is a Mean Girls quote. I love that film dearly and consider it the bible, but I feel like that entire phenomenon added fuel to this fire.

Gretchen Weiners, Regina George and Karen Smith are ready for Halloween. Mean Girls (2004)
Gretchen Weiners, Regina George, and Karen Smith are ready for Halloween. Mean Girls (2004)

It’s especially interesting to see that as countries around the world start celebrating Halloween more in ways Americans do, and their costumes begin to mimic ours.

Japan’s adoption of celebrating Halloween in Shibuya is a great example of this. Much like America’s new ideal for the holiday, a fraction of Japanese partygoers are simply getting drunk, wearing skimpy costumes and causing a general nuisance in the area.

I’m not knocking them for partying, it honestly sounds like fun. But how did we get to this point?

"Little Halloween People"
“Little Halloween People”


From my own beliefs, Samhain is a time of the year where the veil between the seen and unseen worlds is the thinnest. After the Autumn Equinox, this process begins and culminates on the 31st. Spirits wander freely in our realm, and in an effort to scare them off we dress like monsters from hell. We carve turnips, or now popularly pumpkins to leave on doorsteps in deterrence of these undead wandering ghouls.

But now…we are encouraged to drink spirits, which lowers our inhibition and leaves one more…”open” to certain frequencies and vibrations. We are encouraged to dress provocatively, in an effort to…entice these spirits into coital relations with us? I don’t really get it.

I don’t know what energy is being channeled there.

I am a firm believer in a thinning veil. Especially during the entire month of October. I know that certain groups of people practice their rituals during this time. That kids often go missing without a trace leading up to this holiday. That last year, the cutest little black cat was hanging around my yard and the week before Halloween it disappeared.

Sure, someone could have adopted it. But, the cat also could have been used for more nefarious purposes. I’ll ultimately never know. I do know that the other cats that reside in my yard are still here decades later, all mixes of white, grey and even tabby.

So my ultimate point is, what do you think happened to Halloween? Aside from the trick or treating, haunted houses, walking tours, and house parties – when did the spookiness of it all leave? When did pumpkin carving become cute, couture, and pricey? When did the stores start selling only skimpy options? When did we stop making our own costumes, meant to scare the ghouls and not entice them to come on inside?

Have you noticed a difference in the holiday you celebrated as a kid, until now? Why is Halloween simply big business now? A machine that has lost its original meaning, and created a more marketable phenomenon that encourages bad behavior.

I’m aware the origins are dirty. Today however, I don’t think that distinction is as clear anymore.

What do you think?

☆ In Asian Spaces

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Author: In Asian Spaces

I write in my personal time and I haven't published much at all. I don't know if that qualifies me as a writer or not, but I'd like to change that. I have a deep passion for travel, cinema and (mainly) East Asian things, but I plan on writing various things to keep it spicy. Let's prosper together ~ よろしくおねがいします。

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