The Story Behind the Costumes

Naina Shailesh, Staff writer

Halloween is known as one of the most popular holidays in the United States. Every single year, around 600 million pounds of candy are bought and distributed all across the country. While it has lost most of its religious and cultural importance, the way many people celebrate it today continues to affect certain groups by continuing negative stereotypes.

Halloween originated from the ancient festival of Samhain, where Celtic religious followers would light bonfires and dress in costumes to cast away evil spirits. Eventually, the holiday All Saints Day emerged, and All Hallows Eve was celebrated the day before. With time, All Hallows Eve became our modern Halloween.

Today, children around the world celebrate by wearing costumes of all kinds. While dressing up in costumes is a fun and a totally acceptable thing to do, oftentimes, different cultures are represented in ways that aren’t appropriate. For example, Dia de los Muertos is often associated with Halloween and costumes, which doesn’t properly represent the significance of the day. Many argue that some are okay with the association between the two holidays, but the opinions of a couple people is never representative of the whole.

To avoid disrespecting others and their backgrounds, it’s important to carefully consider the costumes when choosing what to dress up as. If the costume represents any sort of stereotype about a race, culture, or group of people, it’s probably not an acceptable costume to wear. Traditional cultural outfits such as sarees and kimonos are not costumes, and it’s considered disrespectful to treat them as such.

While all cultures can be celebrated and recognized by others outside of them, to treat any sort of person as a costume waters down the meaning behind their customs or clothing. To make matters worse, appropriating cultures leads to the generalization of those who are a part of these cultures. Even if the intention is to appreciate another culture, Halloween is not a cultural occasion that shows genuine appreciation for the ones who have maintained these traditions and clothing for centuries.

This Halloween, conduct research on the different types of costumes, especially before purchasing or wearing any. Be sure to adhere to the CDC guidelines, respect others, and enjoy the day!