DENVER (KDVR) — Halloween costumes weren’t always space cowboys and vampires. While Halloween has transformed into a monster of its own in the 21st century, people still went all out for the holiday over 100 years ago.
There is a place in Denver where you can see examples of these Victorian costumes and how people decorated their houses in the late 1800s.
At the Molly Brown House Museum, there’s a Spiritualism exhibit open until Nov. 6 that shows how Victorians participated in Halloween.
Halloween started to become popular in the late 1800s when people would throw extravagant parties. The parties included Ouija boards and bobbing for apples, and the houses were decorated with pumpkins, gourds and flowers, said Molly Brown Museum director Andrea Malcomb.
The first costumes were made out of crepe paper. In the first picture on the left, there’s a replica of what costumes would have looked like.
While Halloween has turned into a spooky holiday, in the late 1800s, it was more about bringing families together for a holiday tradition, according to Malcomb.
Molly Brown was particularly interested in these Halloween festivities, especially Ouija boards and mediums. While Brown was a Catholic, these practices were considered more of a game rather than anything potentially sinister.
“They (Ouija boards) were just a toy that you could buy. There are newspaper ads from 1890-1895, treating it like a board game like Chutes and Ladders,” said Malcomb. “It wasn’t until really the 1970s, where you had movies like ‘The Exorcist,’ where suddenly people in these movies were playing with Ouija boards and summoning demons, that we really began to equate things like that with Satanism, with demonism.
While the decorations and costumes look completely different, the love of Halloween has been consistent for over 100 years.