The History of the Halloween Mask
The Halloween mask is one of the most popular aspects of this scary holiday, as it not only completes your costume, but also allows you to transform yourself into someone—or something—else for an evening. In modern times, children wear masks on October 31 to trick-or-treat in local neighborhoods asking for candy and other sugar-filled treats. However, the history of the Halloween mask is much scarier and more chilling than the modernized festivity of a holiday filled with candy and pumpkins. To appreciate the true meaning behind the mask, it can be helpful to know some details about the origins of Halloween masks.
The Origin of the Halloween Mask
The origin of the Halloween mask dates back many centuries to the Celtic festival of Samhain, a celebration that honors the end of summer and the beginning of the coldness and darkness of winter. The Celts believed that, during this period, the boundary between this world and the next was very thin and that spirits could pass through the living world and wreak havoc on people. To scare away evil spirits and prevent them from entering homes, the Celts dressed up in costumes and wore scary masks, since they believed this would trick the spirits and keep them from knowing people’s identities.
The Halloween Mask in Masquerade Balls
During the Renaissance period in Italy, the Halloween mask became very popular in masquerade balls. However, instead of scaring off evil spirits, the goal of these masks was to hide the identities of members of the upper class and to allow them to take part in activities society usually frowned upon. Instead of demonic and ghoulish masks like the Celts wore, however, the Italians wore extravagant and beautiful masks, some of which contained jewels and gold, with lavish gowns.
The history of the Halloween mask is present in both the Celtic festival of Samhain and the origin of the masquerade ball. While masks were very different in these two cultures, they served the same goal of hiding one’s identity from others. Through the years, masks have become commonplace every Halloween and usually complete costumes children wear. Despite this drastic change in masks through the years, they still allow children to prowl neighborhoods on October 31 anonymously, an idea that has passed down through the centuries.