Halloween costumes are an integral part of Americana, a tradition for young and old to express themselves in spooky, horrific and clever ways or depicting historical figures.
Dressing up to ward away the spirits of the dead on Samhain (pronounced sah-win), the ancient Celtic holiday that now falls on Oct. 31 of our modern calendar, goes all the way back to times before the Romans discovered and invaded the ancient Celtic lands of Britain and Ireland. Nowadays, dressing up is one of the most fun and appealing aspects of the non-holiday holiday known as Halloween.
Since I became an adult and put away childish things, I refused to put away my love of Halloween. I have my favorite shows like Breaking Bad, Firefly and the recently started Westworld. These shows will influence future costume ideas because these shows are timeless.
While my personal favorites are costumes with more of a pop culture reference to them such as Ted and the Amazing Spider-Man, I have dressed as varying types of characters and human monsters since I was a kid. Some of these have been undead soldiers and my own gothic style similar to “The Crow.”
My favorite costume of all time was the stoned “Scream” mask from “Scary Movie” and an axe that screamed when it was swung. Two years ago, I was Ted from the movie “Ted.” While I didn’t dress up last year, I’m looking to make a statement with the way I dress up this year.
Celebrity deaths of the last few years have got me thinking about what I want to be for not only this Halloween but the next few Halloweens to come. Yes, sometimes I do plan my costumes out years in advance but my plan is never set in stone.
The few in recent history that have impacted film and music have made a large impact on my own thinking about who gets honored in our society and how it shows up in Halloween. What if the clowns aren’t just being creepy as hell but are just posing as Patch Adams trying to make weird people laugh?
One of the first ideas that comes to mind for Halloween is Prince. OK, to start, Prince isn’t who I imagine dressing as to chase the spirits of the dead away, but more for honoring one of the greatest musicians of our era. In the same line of thinking, David Bowie might be a little easier for me to pull off because I’m a white guy with long, red hair. All I would need are some contacts for my eyes, some makeup and to feather my hair.
Other ideas include Harambe, Cecil the lion, Steve Irwin and any of the previous presidential candidates, my personal favorite being Bernie Sanders.
Women’s costumes are sometimes a “sexy” variant of a men’s costume, or they’re based on a popular TV show. Sexy Harambe takes the meme to the next level, and I’m not going to judge one way or the other.
To get a woman’s perspective, I asked a dear friend of mine what she personally has liked to wear or what she thinks is cool for Halloween. She said “Orange is the New Black” is pretty cool and said everyone wanted to be Piper or Alex. She said she also really admires cosplay, or fan-made costumes of popular characters from shows, comics, video games and anime.
Halloween plays a very commercial function in our society, and some people probably reject the holiday on those grounds alone. I think it’s a slice of Americana to be enjoyed.