From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!
- Traditional Scottish Prayer
Did you ever wonder where Halloween symbols came from?
Most of them originate from the occult or dark arts (black magic). People have been looking for ways to deal with their fears, especially their fear of wicked spirits for centuries. Mythical creatures have become an important part on All Hallow’s Eve.
Many of the characters we see roaming the streets on October 31st used to be considered monsters and were feared by people centuries ago. Of course today’s costumes are more with the horror films or action heroes.
• Ghosts are thought to be souls of the deceased. Many Halloween symbols associate this holiday with the dead. Some cultures celebrate it as the day of the dead.
• Goblins were repulsive, frightening creatures. They are mischievous and evil and play tricks on humans.
• Werewolves are, of course, another popular symbol. They’re frightening monsters thought to be humans who become wolves when there’s a full moon.
• Vampires – dead people who rise from their coffins at night to drink the blood of humans to strengthen themselves. They only come out at night.
• Black cats are, of course the most popular and are usually accompanied by witches. Black cats were thought to hold special powers.
• Owls are thought to swoop down and consume the souls of the dying. Ancients thought owls were an omen of death. Owls are a nocturnal animal with glassy eyed stares and this frightened people.
• Spiders are another popular symbol. Their webs inhabited haunted houses and symbolized darkness.
• Bats who only come out at night and feed on blood are associated with darkness and the occult. They’re often associated with witches and vampires.
Not all people like to celebrate Halloween with the evil symbols of witches, ghosts, and goblins. Many associate it with the fall harvest. Some of these symbols are now part of Halloween also.
• Pumpkins – another very popular symbol - are usually carved. In fact today, many people have contests and pumpkins are elaborately carved. For those who celebrate the harvest, pumpkins symbolize plenty.
• Apples - since they are harvested in the fall, it was natural that they become a symbol. We associate apple cider, candied or caramel apples with Fall and Halloween.
• Candy corn -invented in the 1880s and shaped to look like a kernel of corn is one of the most popular candies at Halloween.
• Bobbing for apples was probably the most popular game at Halloween parties. Apples floating in a tub of water are caught by contestants using their teeth to grab them. Easier said than done. This tradition was originally played by single men and women and the winner was supposed to be the next person to marry. Apples were symbols of fertility.
• Trick or Treating originated when people dressed up as ghosts to trick the real ghosts into thinking they were real. Today it’s a way for children to go door to door to gather candy.
• Decorating in orange and black is another tradition of Halloween. Both of these colors are associated with the occult, with black being a symbol of shrouds and death, and orange as the traditional color of ceremonial beeswax candles.
Today, people go all out decorating for Halloween almost as much or more than Christmas. Some symbols of Halloween used in decorating are head stones, skeletons, haunted houses – which have become enormously popular, mask – they’re supposed to scare away evil spirits, full moons, eyeballs and blood.