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  • Writer's pictureSteven Hansen

When Halloween Was Truly Frightening

Museum of Curiosities/

Most of this season’s popular Halloween getups – Princess Peach, Spider-man, Taylor Swift, bunny, fairy, cowboy, and Barbie (Weird Barbie not withstanding) – are about as saccharine as the candies those costumed kids march door to door collecting.

Years before the worldwide confectionery and media complexes kidnapped Halloween, it was a simpler and much more creative harvest time amusement. Kids young and old would fashion their own costumes with whatever materials and props they could find. The styles were meant to resemble weird, fantastical or hideous characters designed to frighten off any evil spirits lurking in the area on October 31, All Hallows’ Eve.

Rather than trick-or-treating, this was the one night kids were allowed to roam the dark streets around town terrifying animals, townsfolk, and each other on their way to a bonfire, house party or playing pranks on the neighbors.

Weird, fantastical, and hideous indeed -- we have the photographic evidence to prove it. Enjoy!

Wikimedia Commons



Picryl/Public Domain



New York Public Library Digital Collections

Denver Public Library/Rocky Mountain News Photo Collection

New York Public Library Digital Collections

New York Public Library Digital Collections

Feel free to share this weird gallery with others!

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