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Animals That Symbolize Halloween

Posted by admin On July - 7 - 2011ADD COMMENTS

Animals That Symbolize Halloween


Animals that symbolize Halloween have become associated with Halloween over the generations to end up being a large part of the holiday. It could have something to do with the fact that the first Halloween “costumes” were animal skins worn by the Celts. More than likely, they have just been picked along the way because of individual animal’s connection to certain things that represent the scary or the supernatural.


Generally, most of the critters that have come to symbolize Halloween are nocturnal. This seemed fitting for being connected to evil spirits, witches or vampires who rule the night. Cats, bats and owls have all been linked to things that go bump in the night, especially during Halloween.


Black Cats = Animals That Symbolize Halloween


This symbol has become so tied into Halloween tradition and the occult that owners of black cats are advised to keep their pets indoors for a few days prior to Halloween so they are not stolen. Pet shelters and cat rescue groups will not adopt out the onyx haired felines for up to a week before the holiday. Black cats are even part of the superstition that if one crosses your path, you will have bad luck or even die.


Cats have been given a bad rap since being linked to witches. Folklore has made these creatures pets or “familiars” of witches throughout history. This link is so intertwined that, during the witch trials, cats were often killed for being evil just as the reported witches were. Ironically, some stories claimed witches would sacrifice these animals during rituals or kill them to use in brews for spells and curses. That is the main reason frogs get linked to witches and Halloween, as well.


Bats and Halloween


There are a few reasons these winged creatures have become linked to Halloween and all things otherworldly. The first is the presence of bats during the very first Halloweens. It is said that during Samhain, the original Halloween, great bonfires were built to ward away evil spirits. Because fires attract bugs and bugs attract bats, there was a great presence of bats during these activities. It was viewed that the bats were connected to the spirit world trying to get through, but still frightened off by the roaring flames.


The other reason bats have become a symbol of evil is their connection to vampires. Since early stories of Dracula and vampires have often included bats, in one way or another, they have long been thought of as evil as well. Vampires were thought to turn into bats to fly through the night and be able to get into rooms with great ease. It was also thought that bats would live in the high arches of castles where vampires resided. By the way, these critters turn up in witches’ brew recipes as well.


Owls and the Halloween Connection


Found hidden deep in the tree branches of dark woods, late into the night that haunting screech can be the only thing one hears. While it may be pleasant now, imagine walking a dark wooded path alone long before modern times. This could be a very unsettling noise. A reminder you are not alone and yet unable to see the creature making sounds nearby.


Like bats, owls would take flight during those first Samhain events. They would fly close enough to the fires to snag bugs, or lower for rodents, and seemed to be linked to the spirit world. Like cats, owls have also been connected to witches for being their companions. It doesn’t help that a witch in a Grimm’s fairy tale does transform into an owl.


Crows and the Macabre


It is almost safe to say that if an animal comes in all black, it could be considered linked to the supernatural and scary. Crows have long been thought to become present to represent a bad omen. This could be why this creature has come to symbolize Halloween. Also, they are sometimes believed to be companions of witches and certainly a common part of their brews to cast spells.


A group of crows circling overhead, called a murder actually, has become a tale of superstition claiming someone will die. Of course there are plenty of cultures and folklore that consider a single crow or a murder of crows to be good luck, but when it comes to Halloween, crows are seen as devious. Edgar Allan Poe may not have helped the matter with his classic chilling poetic account of “The Raven” who comes knocking, knocking at his chamber door.


There are other animals that symbolize Halloween, but these are some of the more traditional and common ones.


Animals Linked to, or That Symbolize Halloween

Black cats are one of the symbols of Halloween and have gotten a bad rap a few hundred years ago, when they were associated with witches.  Due to ignorance and fear about diseases such as the Bubonic Plague and how they were spread (fleas on rats), and because cats in general were not much liked, the Black Death spread and decimated thousands upon thousands of people.  If the cats could have been left to do their natural thing — hunt rodents — all may have been prevented.


Cats still retain that imagery of Halloween and black ones in particular — although today, black cats are more likely to be sitting in the front window, curious about trick or treaters walking by on the sidewalk, than be involved in all of that “tom foolery”.


Few people even today, can truly say they love vampire bats.  They have been linked to Halloween, especially after Bram Stoker’s Dracula was written and loved as a great horror story by the Victorians.  After vampires came to be associated with Halloween, some true incidents were dug up that appeared to relate to or further symbolize Halloween.  A bloodthirsty Vlad the Impaler loved to put his enemies’ heads onto spikes surrounding his castle and these acts further added to the vampire lore.  Vampires and Count Dracula are reputed to be able to turn into bats and escape.  The real vampire bat does drink blood, but in small amounts and usually from cattle or goats.


In old Hebrew legends there was a woman who turned into an owl and preyed upon infants and expectant mothers.  The Greek shad a tale of monsters who loved the dark as well as dining on children.  There’s another strange tale, this one from India of a creature who liked to hang upside down during daylight hours, and who had no blood of its own.  Naturally, it had to get blood from other living beings.  Being drained of blood by a bat or vampire (in legend) tends to lend it to Halloween tales and associations.

Real vampire bats have a chemical in their saliva which prevents blood from clotting, and this is so they can “dine” longer.  Most bays do not carry rabies and most eat insects,  Wild bats are not encouraged as pets and the Organization for Bat Conservation does their best to spread knowledge about these flying mammals.

Wolves used to be common in Europe and during the 1500s, villagers in Germany found both half eaten humans and farm animals lying around.  They thought that wolves were the hunters.  When they tracked down a certain wolf, it turned into a werewolf and became someone they knew from the village.  A pamphlet was made to describe this event and this is how the werewolf came into our imaginations and legends.  There have been tall tales of wolves and bats and vampires and who knows what else mixing it up in epic battles, down through the ages.

Wolves howl at the moon and are hunters by nature.  They are cunning and intelligent and our first domesticated dogs may have been, or come from wolves.  At times, wolves were believed to be associated with the devil. There is conflict between property owners and wolves some of the time and the animal has faced extinction.  It has slowly returned due to releases from captive breeding populations.

People in the middle ages ate bread made from a hallucinogenic grain.  This may have led them to think that certain villagers had turned into wolves and become werewolves, especially on a night lit by a full moon.  Wolves howl as communication to other pack members and as a warning to non-pack members.  Wolf-dog hybrids are not encouraged.

Haunted houses are home to lots of spiders — very large spiders.  Most of them are made from latex or rubber, but the spider has long been linked to Halloween.  There are many types of spiders and they come in  a large variety of sizes and colors.  A large tarantula relative eats birds.  Most humans fear spiders, although most spiders are beneficial to humans.  In England, a spider in the house meant good luck.  Spiders can grow their legs back. There are way more than 35,000 species of spiders in the world.

One other animal that symbolize Halloween is a snake.  They are most often feared because a lot are venomous and people have died from snake bites.  Some are constrictors and huge, like pythons and anacondas.  Most snakes are beneficial to humans in that they keep a check on the rodent and insect populations.