Saints and Sinners Costume Ball Ideas

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In the theology of many Christian traditions, including Orthodox, Anglican and Catholic traditions, sainthood is an honor bestowed on people said to have lived exemplary lives. Many of the saints from the early centuries of the Christian church are celebrated by all of these denominations, and some of the best known, such as St. John the Baptist and St. Francis of Assisi, have feast days in their honor.

Costumes for Saints

  • Wear a brown habit and cowl to portray St. Brendan, whose famous sea voyage was depicted in the medieval tale “The Voyage of St. Brendan,” or add a stuffed bird to the costume and go as St. Francis, who famously communed with birds and wolves. Dress as Our Lady of Guadalupe; wear a long blue veil like the veil the apparition wore when she appeared to a villager in Mexico in 1519. Carry a sword and wear a suit of armor to portray St. Joan of Arc, the teenage peasant girl who led the French into battle and won a series of stunning defeats against the British. Dress as the martyred St. John the Baptist; wear a simple brown robe and carry a silver platter like the one Salome presented to Herod with his own head inside. Wear a plain white shirt lined with red ink to signify the arrow wounds that led to St. Sebastian’s death.

Costumes for Sinners

  • Dress as Judas, history’s most infamous traitor; wear a robe and hold a small bag of coins in one hand, like the 30 silver pieces with which he betrayed Jesus. Wear a long dress, neck ruff and crown to become Mary, Queen of Scots, the Catholic queen responsible for the violent deaths of many Protestants. Trace a thin red line across your neck to signify her beheading. For a costume choice that works as both a saint and a sinner, dress as St. Peter with a plastic or stuffed rooster on one shoulder to evoke the night he denied Jesus three times before the rooster crowed; as the party goes on, set aside the rooster and take up a net of fish to signify his repentance and acceptance of his mission to become a “fisher of men,” an evangelist.

Sinner Costumes for Couples

  • Come with a partner dressed in flesh-colored clothes with artificial vines twined around you to portray Adam and Eve. Give one partner a sword and the other a crystal ball to portray Saul, the rebellious king of Israel, and the witch of Endor, whose powers of divination he sought on the night he died. In a twist, dress in standard Puritan attire, including a dark shirt, broad hat or a long dress to represent one of the tortured couples in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s works. Dress as Arthur Dimmesdale and Hester Prynne, with Hester wearing a scarlet "A" on her shirt, or as Young Goodman Brown and his wife, Faith, with Faith wearing pink ribbons in her hair.

Saint Costumes for Couples

  • If you are attending a party with a partner, consider dressing as St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi. St. Francis founded an order of monks while St. Clare founded an order of nuns around the same time, and the two remained friends throughout their lives. Wear a brown habit and carry the monstrance St. Clare typically waves in Western art. Come paired as Our Lady of Guadalupe and the young man to whom she paid repeated visits, Juan Diego. Diego insisted to local authorities he had seen the Blessed Virgin; her image ultimately appeared on a tilma he claimed she gave to him, convincing skeptics and leading to the conversion of several million Mexicans. Wear a canvas or poncho with the image of Our Lady on it to represent Diego.

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