Halloween Traditions – Costumes

Costume parties are an integral aspect of the Halloween tradition in the US. There is an entire industry dedicated to mass producing and selling Halloween costumes, though the best ones are homemade. I’ve said before that Halloween is a creative holiday, and costumes are a part of that creativity. Even adults participate in the activity, though some social groups reserve making and wearing costumes for children going trick-or-treating.

Though the Halloween costume industry is relatively new, the actual tradition of making and wearing costumes for the holiday stems all the way back to the Celts’ celebration of Samhain. They believed the veil between our realm and the spiritual realm was thinnest during Samhain, so to confuse spirits that might mean them harm, they wore face paint and unusual clothing. Now, we wear costumes on Halloween in large part because it’s fun. It’s exciting to decide on a persona for Halloween, and since I still maintain that the holiday is about creativity at its heart, it’s fulfilling to design and make the costume that brings that persona to life. Actually donning the costume is often empowering beyond the satisfaction of having created it in the first place.

Wearing a costume and symbolically becoming another person has a psychological benefit that is, in a way, uniquely Satanic. In the same way Dungeons and Dragons players can work through their issues by “becoming” their characters, wearing a costume can help someone feel empowered by embodying the persona they’ve chosen. What a person feels incapable of doing on their own can be accomplished by evoking that persona.

Wearing a costume can have the same effect on a person as wearing makeup can. I wear makeup in order to feel like a more powerful version of myself, and I often “dress up” when I perform major rituals. Satanic ritual is often meant to be a transformational event, so dressing the part only makes sense. It generally helps to change my normal attire when I want to change something within myself, and it also helps me feel powerful when my ritual outfit matches the persona I’m trying to embody.

Some Evangelical Christians avoid costume parties on Halloween because they think it’s Satanic, and they are right – just not for the reasons they think. Wearing costumes on Halloween is a fun, transformational tradition steeped in pagan roots. It’s a way to engage in a fantasy of our choosing and become someone else for a night, and it’s not exclusive to pagans and Satanists. Everyone is allowed to participate, even the Christians who fear it. They are more than welcome to try it. They might just learn something about themselves in the process.

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