Why do people get dressed for Halloween

Halloween - opinions differ about this custom

In the night from October 31st to November 1st, some people spend hours wearing costumes and make-up. Just to look as dead as possible afterwards. The others bolt the door in panic and then pretend to be dead when the doorbell rings. In front of the door, monsters, zombies, skeletons, vampires, witches and other gruesome characters demand sweets, otherwise there is a treat. Finally, October 31st is Halloween, which we have been celebrating extensively for several years now.

Halloween comes from Ireland

Many dismiss the custom as an American spinning mill. It is true that Halloween is about as popular in the USA as Mardi Gras is here. However, Halloween is a very European custom. The first evidence of this can be found in the late Middle Ages, especially in Ireland, but also in Scotland. At that time, people invited to banquets there on the eve of All Saints' Day. The name Halloween is derived from "All Hallows' Eve". At the same time, children went from house to house and begged for donations. For a long time it was said that Halloween goes back to around 2,000 year old Celtic roots. This is now considered refuted.

The Irish took Halloween to the United States

In the mid-19th century, many Irish left their homes due to famine and immigrated to the United States. They took their Halloween festival with them. In Ireland they dug up sugar beets to do justice to the legend of the farrier Jack who wandered around with a beet lit from within, they now used pumpkin as a substitute to decorate their house. In the United States, Halloween has become a casual family and neighborhood festival. The children go from house to house in disguise and shout "Trick or treat". The rallying cry means they are playing a prank on anyone who does not voluntarily hand them candy. For most of the adults there, it is a matter of honor to have enough sweets in the house and to please the candy hunters with them.

Halloween came to us from the USA

Halloween became known to us through US soldiers stationed in Europe, films and series. According to the cultural scientist Monique Scheer, Halloween has been celebrated more and more frequently in our country since the 1990s. Certainly also because the industry discovered the custom: According to a study by the market research institute YouGov, Germans spent almost half a billion euros on Halloween 2017 - on sweets, costumes and accessories. According to YouGov, Halloween is not just a festival for children: 56 percent of 18 to 24 year olds and 41 percent of 25 to 34 year olds were Halloween fans in 2017.

Vampire, witch, ghost and zombie

In 2018, another survey by YouGov in cooperation with Statista showed that little vampires and ghosts are more likely to expect sweets from people over 55 (56 percent) than from 18 and 34-year-olds (40 and 41 percent). The most popular shower costumes among the 1,124 respondents aged 18 and over, of whom around 162 want to dress up, were vampires, followed by witches and ghosts. The ghost also has to share the third costume place with the zombie. The skeleton / grim reaper only ended up in seventh place on the popularity list.

We like to shudder

People like to be scared and German Halloween friends are also primarily concerned with the scary aspect, says Scheer: Skulls, witches and ghosts shape the outfits and the decorations. In the USA, on the other hand, the motto is "the main thing to dress up" - Halloween is also a little substitute for Shrovetide there.

Sleep in after Halloween

But Halloween is also popular with us for a very practical reason: The following day is All Saints' Day - and a public holiday in many federal states. For the grown-ups, there are scary costumes and disgusting drinks at Halloween parties. Sweets for the children, otherwise there is a risk of treats. According to Scheer, however, socio-spatial conditions prevent the festival from becoming a success for the very young generation: "In the USA, Halloween is designed for the suburbs with single-family houses, where children go from door to door. But very few live that in Germany Familys."

Beware of crime on Halloween

However, even the youngest and best dressed up Halloween fans are not immune from punishment. October 31st is not an unlawful day. After the battle cry "Trick or Treat" one must not insist on the distribution of candy, the sour should remain a fun threat. Throwing eggs at house walls and cars or demolishing garbage cans and mailboxes is of course also prohibited and punishable on Halloween. Anyone caught damaging property can face fines or up to two years in prison. There is even a risk of up to three years imprisonment for so-called damage to property if publicly used goods such as park benches are broken. In a group, those can also be punished who did not cause damage themselves, but were "only there". You then face penalties for collective damage to property.

"If someone else's property is damaged, for example a car is scratched while being wrapped in toilet paper, that's property damage. Property damage is punishable by a fine and even up to two years in prison. In addition, the perpetrators have to compensate for the damage." Joachim Schneider, managing director of the police crime prevention of the states and the federal government

Parents should take care of their scary children

Of course, Halloween does not override the duty of supervision. When smaller children go out begging for sweets, an adult should always be there. Parents should also sensitize their offspring to the pranks. It is true that children up to the age of 14 cannot be prosecuted because they are not yet at fault. But seven-year-olds or - in the event of a breach of the duty of supervision - the parents can be held responsible for the reparation of damage caused.

"It is important that parents educate their children about what else can be considered a prank, what is property damage and what the consequences are." Joachim Schneider, managing director of the police crime prevention of the federal states and the federal states

If you get caught, you have to pay for the damage. If no culprit is found, residential building insurance can at least partially compensate those affected for damage caused by willful damage. Ringing the doorbell in disguise and asking for sweets or having fun at the Halloween party is not prohibited until further notice.

Avoid accidents on Halloween

On the way through the streets or to the party, however, the creepy figures should be careful: Canadian scientists have analyzed traffic data from the USA from 42 years. They found that traffic accidents between cars and pedestrians on Halloween kill an average of four times more people than on other days. The researchers therefore recommend that pedestrians have reflectors on their costumes and a flashlight so that drivers can see them early despite their dark costumes. They advise all road users to wear masks that do not restrict their field of vision.

We wish you a happy and safe creep!