Why Do We Wear Costumes and Trick or Treat on Halloween?

Costumes have become a very important role in the modern celebration of Halloween, but why? Why do we dress up? In the modern age we live in, it’s become something we do for fun, but where did all this start? In my previous article, I spoke very briefly about this, but here I will take a deeper look into all this and we can see what gets dug up.

For a quick recap: “The Celts, as I mentioned in last week’s article, celebrated what we call ‘All Hallow’s Eve’ or ‘Halloween’ (Samhain to the Celts at that time) was celebrated on November 1st when it was the end of summer and the boundaries between the living and dead were believed to be blurred.” This is where the core of our article comes in.


We all wear disguises for some or other reason, but I think we can all agree that this is mostly to hide something. Whether it’s to hide how you’re feeling or to hide from others–we all wear disguises. On Halloween/Samhain this was the case with the Celts. Because the Celts believed that the spiritual boundaries were blurred, they believed that the dead walked among and interacted with the living. This understandably terrified them as they believed they would be cursed or quite possibly be killed. So they had to find a way to repel these beings of another world. Their solution: disguises. These they used to ward the dead and this is now a tradition that has been passed down to the present. When the Irish folk came in search of a better life and for work during the Great Potato Famine, they brought across all their customs and traditions and we just adopted them and modified them. In doing so, I feel we lost a lot of what this tradition means.

People in those times were too afraid to leave their houses because of these ghosts, but they quickly found a way around that, donning scary masks or disguises to blend in with the spirits that they so dreaded encountering. These disguises were also used to honour the spirits. This idea began in County Cork, Ireland.


Of course, how could anyone think of this tradition of disguises and spirit-warding without thinking about trick-or-treating? They are tied so closely tied in with each other that it is impossible to think of the one without the other. So let’s talk about how trick-or-treating started.

A few years ago, my father explained to me the origins of the various holidays and celebrations we have today and I was quite shocked. One day, I think I\’ll write on those. (If you have any ideas let me know 😉 ) In particular the tradition of trick-or-treating, this also is quite similar to the story of the Jack-o’-Lanterns. The tradition started with the offering of food or money to the dead. Trick-or-treating itself, according to my sources, say that this tradition was originally children dressed up in their ghoulish attire going from door to door asking for money or food. All things considered, this makes sense given that these offerings would’ve been made to the dead. But then, just me digressing a little (and again if you know the answer please tell me), it kind of defies the purpose if the money or food went to the spirit? It could be that the parents made the food for the dead and then something else for the kids to come collect? Either way, that is where it all started.

People in Catholic countries, however, don’t celebrate it as the rest of the world do. Instead they visit graveyards and churches to light candles for the dead, pray and bless their spirits. As a Christian, I prefer not to get involved in this simply because of what happens on this holiday. I won’t mention what, but I can tell you it’s not the trick-or-treating or costume parties that put me off.

I’ve grown to love ghost stories now that I’m older, but I still think that playing with Quiji boards and trying to interact with demonic entities is something not to be taken lightly or done simply as a game.

Tomorrow is October 31st and all around the world people will be celebrating this, not knowing it’s origins. I hope that as you read this, you\’ll be a bit more enlightened about this. Please be careful out there tomorrow 🙂 In South Africa, we’ve already had terrible things happening. So please pray for us, most importantly for our children this time of year.

God bless and keep you safe, my darling avidReaders! 🙂

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