The average person will spend $23.33 on Halloween costumes (including children's and pet's costumes), though young adults will spend far more. In fact, according to the survey, 18-to 24-year-olds plan to be the most festive, spending $34.06 on costumes. Last year's survey found top costumes for both children and adults to be pirates, cats, vampires and witches.
The tradition of dressing up is claimed to go back to Celtic celebration of Samhain, where Celts donned costumes in order to ward off evil spirits. These traditions came to America during the 19th century, when many Irish people emigrated to escape the potato famine. The commercialization of Halloween in America did not start until the 20th century, with mass-produced Halloween costumes not appearing in stores until the 1930s.
An article in the San Francisco Call, dated Oct. 31, 1909, offers insights for "misses" who wish to throw a successful Halloween party. The reporter suggests incorporating an amusing dance where the guests dress according to an Autumn theme.
"While it is comparatively easy for a properly built young person to appear as an ear of corn, it is rather difficult for her or him to assume the exact proportions of a tomato," said the reporter, who suggests that "a lettuce girl, with full shaded green skirts of crinkled paper and some gracefully arranged lettuce leaves for bodice and headdress is a most fascinating creature."
The reporter goes on to advise that girls select fruit and vegetable costumes that are pretty and becoming, while the boys, "with their customary gallantry, volunteer for the grotesque parts." Adding to the fun, there should also be a mixture of traditional Halloween characters: "Nothing could be more amusing than the pairing off of such an assemblage. Miss Lettuce and jack o' lantern dancing together, followed by the witch and the tomato boy, the grape girl and the owl, picturesque Miss Autumn Leaf and a jolly
brownie, make up a procession of quaint contrasts."