Top 10 Halloween Costumes
Everything is different this year and while nothing replaces trick-or-treating this guide offers a fun new way for families to celebrate Halloween by understanding the culture behind our children’s favorite characters’ costume.
An idea for parents to make it even more appealing for the little ones, order some traditional candy to go along with their costume.
With Disney’s recent live-action release of Mulan, this is going to be the IT costume in 2020.
Who Mulan is? She’s a female warrior from China
Where the costume originates from? The clothing for Mulan—including the Hanfu—is primarily from the Tang Dynasty. This era lasted nearly 300 years and was regarded as China’s Golden Age of arts and culture.
What does she wear—and why? Mulan wears a red robe in the warrior scenes. In Chinese culture, red has always been one of its official colors and it signifies the individual’s ties to the throne or it can also identify a person with their specific tribe. Women’s dresses typically featured elongated sleeves, with an emphasis on high waists, and the outfits generally consisted of “very, very long floating garments” that reached the ground. The large flower pattern is lively and free and celebrates the richness of the culture. In terms of colors, golden yellow is the exclusive color of the emperor and the royal family.
Since Mulan is dressed like a warrior, it’s important to talk about men’s clothes, too (since at that time, men were exclusively the warriors). In contrast to the women’s costumes, men’s robes are mostly solid colors with no patterns. She took great risks assuming a role exclusively reserved for men.
The Tang-era costumes, like Mulan’s, had a tremendous impact on the life and culture of Chinese people in later dynasties, becoming a unique form of ancient Chinese culture and art.
Haw Flakes: a favorite among children, these traditional candies are made from hawthorn fruit and appear as paper-thin wafers.
White Rabbit Candy: shaped like a tootsie roll and has a milky taste. It is a contemporary western taffy. Thin edible paper-like wrapping made from sticky rice that wraps around each piece of candy. The whole candy, along with the rice paper wrapping, is meant to be eaten together.
Though Disney’s Aladdin was released almost 20 years ago, Jasmine is such a strong female character, her costume is still a favorite today.
Who Jasmine is? She’s an Arabian princess from the Middle East.
Where the costume originates from? The Jasmine costume that you’ll see at Halloween is not traditional Arabian clothing; in fact, actually resembles Indian traditional clothing. Traditional Arabian clothing includes the abaya, a long flowing outer garment worn over all other clothing and a long scarf known as a dupatta.
What does she wear—and why? In the movie, Jasmine’s clothes are more representative of her personality than her culture. For example, there’s a peacock motif that’s seen on her clothing and jewelry, which allude to her being a beautiful free spirit trapped in a rarefied world. Hers—and the other costumes we see in Aladdin—are more representative of the Mughal empire between the 16th and 19th centuries, which is more of a blend of Arab, Persian, and Indian styles. This patchwork of cultural influences shows in the story, too: Jasmine’s character is based on Badroulbadour, a princess who appears in the One Thousand and One Nights folktale, part of a series that reflects stories and tales shared by merchants from different cultures along the Silk Road one of the world’s most important trade routes that connected China, the Far East, the Middle East and Europe
Halvah (Honey-Sesame-Candy) crumbly, nut-butter based kind, and the flour-based variety ;adapted the flour-based kind for whole grain sprouted flour.
Baklava: Buttery, flaky puff pastry soaked in honey and sugar with tender pistachios stuffed between layers of dough.
Moana & Maui
These two costumes are based on beloved characters from Disney’s 2016 hit, Moana.
Who Moana is? She’s a strong-willed princess and daughter of the chief of a Polynesian village.
Who Maui is? He’s a boisterous South Pacific demigod with a giant, magical fish hook.
Where the costumes originate from? The costumes represent South Pacific and Polynesian culture, most likely Tonga or Samoa, the two first archipelagoes where the Polynesian People were born.
What do they wear—and why? The costumes reflect items that would naturally be found on Motu Nui Island in Polynesia. Her top is called a tapa, which is a textile made from a mulberry tree; her skirt is made from pandanas, a palm-like tree native to the region. The sarong is called a lavalava and is worn by both men and women (mens are usually plain; women usually wear more patterns and colors). Maui’s tattoos represent the local tradition of having intricate, geometrical patterns tattooed on their lower body to show their pride in their heritage and culture. Samoan men and women often roll the waistband of the lavalava to expose their tattoos during dances or or other ceremonies. The headdress, called a tuiga, is part of traditional ceremonial attire and is made from shells and feathers.
Polynesians are one of the greatest early seafaring cultures. Like Moana, they sailed thousands of miles of ocean without compasses. By living in harmony with the ocean they navigated by noting the directions of the waves, the strength and direction of the current, and the variations in bird and sea life. And – they were among the first to navigate by the stars.
Both Maui’s and Moana’s costumes include items that are still worn today for ceremonies, festive occasions and dance performances.
Mui Drops: little hard candies with a chewy dried plum in the middle. They are like lollipops. You don’t have to lick them though.
Día de los Muertos costumes
Over the past decade or so, Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) costumes have become super popular for their striking makeup and vivid colors.
Where the costume originates from? Dia de los Muertos is celebrated as the first of November in Latin America, and most predominantly Mexico. This national holiday corresponds with All Saints Day – a day on which some believe the spirit world and living world are the closest. The tradition started with ancient Aztec and has become a joyful celebration honoring the dead. It is NOT a scary holiday and is not a Mexican Halloween. Families make altars to the dead – showering their loved ones with ofrendas – offerings like marigolds, ornate sugar skulls, photos, favorite foods, gifts and music.
What do they wear—and why? “La Catrina”, the painted female skull face, has come to symbolize Día de los Muertos and Mexicans willingness to laugh at death itself. Originally ‘La Catrina’ was an elegant or well-dressed woman, referring to death as the great equalizer sparing neither the wealthy nor the poor.
People who celebrate this holiday believe the souls of the dead awaken and return to the living world to feast, drink, dance and play music with their loved ones. In the parades in Mexico, adults and children spill into the streets with their faces painted to resemble skulls and wearing shells or other noisemakers to amp up the excitement and rouse the dead.
Cultural Sweet: Vero Mexican Tamarindo Candy Rellerindos
The sourness of Tamarind is perfectly combined with the sweetness of caramel and spicy chilies. Vero certainly shows why it is one of the most popular Mexican candy brands through these Tamarindo Candy Rellerindos. If you love Mexican candies, then you will adore this!
Polvorones: A type of heavy, soft, and very crumbly Spanish shortbread made of flour, sugar, milk, and nuts (especially almonds). … Polvorones are popular holiday delicacies in all of Spain, Hispanic America
The movie based on Marvel Comics’ character Black Panther was a huge box office and critical hit inspiring kids across the country to dress up as different characters from the fictional land of Wakanda. Based on a 1965 comic strip character, and Black Panther was the first Black superhero in mainstream America. This year’s death of star actor Chadwick Boseman who brought the character life makes the costume even more meaningful to children this Halloween.
Who T’Challa/Black Panther is? He’s the heir to the hidden but advanced kingdom of Wakanda who must step forward to lead his people into a new future and must confront a challenger from his country’s past.
Where the costume originates from? The costumes being worn this halloween are based on the movie and represent a gorgeous combination of Africa and fantasy created by designer Ruth E. Jackson, the first Black woman to win an Academy Award for costume design.
What does T’Challa wear—and why? Black Panther’s costume represents Black power, bravery, and excellence. It reflects the indigenous people across the continent of Africa, including items like the traditional stacked neck rings worn by the Ndebele women of South Africa. T’Challa only wears black and the costume features a raised-triangle motif, reflecting the sacred geometry of Africa and being a king.
Qumbe ( Coconut Candy): an East African coconut candy, is made with coconut and almond flour for a sweet treat
Malva Pudding: Pudding base covered in a creamy, sweet sauce made with water, cream, vanilla, butter, and sugar. The pudding is usually made from butter, sugar, eggs, apricot jam, milk, flour, and salt.
Malva pudding after the Afrikaans word malva, meaning marshmallow, referring to the similarities between marshmallows and the pudding’s texture.
Mira, Royal Detective
Mira, Royal Detective debuted on the Disney Junior channel and immediately became a huge hit with young kids across the country.
Who Mira is? Mira is a smart, brave, and compassionate Indian girl. She’s a commoner who gets appointed to the role of Royal Detective of her kingdom. She’s a critical thinker, deeply empathetic, and doesn’t jump to conclusions. She helps everyone, royals and townsfolk, alike inspiring some to call her the “People’s Detective.”
Where the costume originates from? Mira’s costume celebrates India and South Asian culture and is specifically based on the northeastern Rajasthan region.
What does Mira wear—and why? Mira wears the churidar pajama pant (puckered trousers) with a brightly colored long shirt called a kameez. Many older and married Women wear ghagra (long skirt) and kanchli (top). The skirt and top, which comes in a variety of colours, prints and fabrics, such as silk, cotton, georgette and crêpe..To impart royal elegance, antique borders and Jaipuri gota-patti work are incorporated to the ghagra. These materials all represent the royalty and elite, just like Queen Shanti.
Mira’s outfits are of the same variety of colors and fabric as she is the royal detective.
Gulab Jamun Milk powder balls are fried in oil until they are golden brown. dip the prepared gulab jamuns in sugar syrup until they are ready to be consumed. Gulab Jamun is brownish in color, and can be enjoyed warm or cold, depending on how you like it
Eclairs Candy: Original Classic Cadbury Chocolate Eclairs
Though she hasn’t been given the Disney treatment, Cleopatra, a princess—then queen—of Egypt born in 69 BC, is one of the most enduring halloween costumes of all.
Who Cleopatra is? Cleopatra was born to the king of Egypt—Pharaoh Ptolemy XII—and from a very young age showed exceptional intelligence, wit, and charm. She was her father’s favorite child and learned a lot about how the country was ruled from him. She spoke several languages, as well as excelled in math, philosophy, oratory and astronomy. She later went on to lead the country as queen.
Where the costume originates from? The costume represents traditional royal clothing in Egypt from the era Cleopatra lived in, 40BC.
What does Cleopatra wear—and why? Egyptians adored the human body and wanted the clothes to be flattering. Cleopatra was considered a fashion icon of her time, especially known for her makeup style and luxurious jewelry. She wore ankle-length sheath dresses called “kalasiris” made from linen, which were light and cool for the hot climate. Formal clothes were more elaborate and detailed. The color of clothing has meaning for Egyptians; for example, blue represents Amon, the god of air and yellow was the symbol of gold. Cleopatra’s style was similar to other wealthy people in Egypt, but she boosted her style with more unique jewelry and dramatic make-up. Cleopatra was the last pharaoh of ancient Egypt. She became queen when she was 18 and was legendary for her intelligence, strategy and beauty.
Umm Ali a national dessert of Egypt. There are numerous variations with different compositions.Traditionally a bread pudding, old puff pastry, milk and cream, coconut chips, sugar, almonds, and raisins.
Download our “Culture (& Candy) behind the Costumes” guide to understanding the cultural significance between this year’s popular costumes.