Americans spend an estimated $10 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday.
The Halloween tradition can be traced back 2,000 years to the Celts and the area that is now Ireland, Scotland, Wales and northern France.
The Celts celebrated their new year on Nov. 1 and they believed on the night before the new year, Oct. 31, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became merged and the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.
During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes of animal heads and skins and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes.
In the 7th century, Pope Boniface IV designated Nov. 1 as All Saints Day to honor the saints and martyrs, in an attempt to replace the pagan Celtic festival of the dead. The celebration was called All-Hallows mass, and the night before it began to be called All-Hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.
By the 1920s and 30s, Halloween became a community-centered holiday with parties, focused on games, food and festive costumes.
Halloween is a great holiday for the entire family to find an “alter-ego” and play dress up.
Last year, it was all about the girls. Wonder Woman was the costume of choice across the board for girls and women, from tots to teens and beyond.
This year, the boys are storming the Halloween costume stores in search of “Fortnite” costumes. If you’re unfamiliar with “Fortnite,” you probably don’t know a preteen or teenage boy. In less than a year, the “Fortnite” video game has attracted more than 125 million players. Girls play “Fortnite,” too, but with so many costumes choices for girls and women, the “Fortnite” factor is less noticeable.
“There are hundreds of ‘Fortnite’ characters and lots of options for costumes you can create yourself,” said Jana Einaudi, manager of A Chorus Line in Valencia.
Despite the “Fortnite” craze Einaudi said the most popular costume requests for boys and girls continue to be super heroes.
“Superheroes have been popular for several years and they are still popular,” she said. “Wonder Woman was huge last year, but this year, there is no real standout character.”
Scary costumes are also making a comeback for both boys and girls, said Einaudi.
Killer clowns, zombies and other denizens of the macabre are leading the army of frightful Halloween ghouls.
“Little girls want to be scary,” Einaudi said. “They aren’t looking to be cutesy or princesses.”
Animal and character “onesie” costumes are also big this year, said Einaudi.
“Unicorns and other mythical creatures are very popular this year,” she said.
Adults are currently seeking Oktoberfest costumes, said Einaudi.
“It’s that time of year for lederhosen, knee high socks and dirndl skirts. Many people then use the Oktoberfest costumes for Halloween, too.”
Einaudi said do-it-yourself costume creations are on the rise and the store now carries a lot of individual costume items that people can combine for a unique, one-of-a-kind look.
“We have tons of accessories so people can create their own look and that’s been very popular,” she said.
According to the National Costumers Association, the following are on the top of the 2018 Halloween costume trends: “The Incredibles,” “Black Panther,” scary clowns, Harry Potter,” “The Greatest Showman,” “Captain America,” “Fortnite,” Michael Myers, “Game of Thrones,” “The Avengers,” Day of the Dead, “Westworld,” “Minecraft,” “Deadpool,” “Jurassic World,” plus assorted superheroes and super villains.
Always “in” year after year are Disco ’70s, the Fabulous ’50s, Wizard of Oz, Elvis, rock stars, Roaring ’20s, “Great Gatsby,” Disney princesses, pirates and wenches, Oktoberfest, SWAT, grim reapers, ghouls and goblins.
Many costumes can be given your own unique spin with a little creativity and glue and glitter.
Want a unicorn costume without spending a fortune? Buy a white dress, make your own horn from foam or other materials and cover it with fabric and buy a multi-colored wig.
Many of the “Fortnite” costumes can also be assembled from odds and ends found at costume, craft and fabric stores around the Santa Clarita Valley.
Finding the perfect Halloween costume is one of the great joys of childhood (and for some adults, too).
The best advice is to get to the costume store early, before all the best costumes are gone.