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Black cats are quintessential Halloween icons but how did they become associated with Halloween?

Black cat eyes

To answer this question, you need to know a little about the origin of Halloween first.

 How did Halloween start?

Halloween Pumpkins
Halloween is thought to have originated from Samhain, a Pagan Religious festival, which marks the change in seasons from the lighter to darker time of the year. The darker being winter which is actually summer to us Aussies!

It is also the time when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest and is an excellent time to contact the spirit world. Family’s ancestors could be contacted through seances to be honoured, while harmful spirits were warded off.

Christianity incorporated this honouring of the dead on the Christian calendar with All Hallows or All Saints on November 1st making October 31st All Hallows Eve. Now known today as Halloween.

How are Witches & Black Cats connected?

Witch

It was in the Middle Ages that black cats became associated with witches and witchcraft. It was thought that black cats would assist witches to cast spells. Some people thought that witches would gather in the form of a cat to worship the devil due to their nocturnal nature.

During the infamous Salem (Massachusetts, USA) witch trials in 1692 a wave of hysteria spread which resulted in the hanging of witches and horrific mass killing of their black cats. In Europe witches were burned at the stake along with their cat.

How are Halloween and Witchcraft Connected?

Halloween and Witchcraft have become connected due to the connotations of death and the dead. The witch connection is actually an American invention, started by a savvy businessman in the late 19th century.

Due to the brutal hanging of witches during the witch trials, he branded the town of Salem as “Witch City.” Halloween is now a peak tourist season for Salem. There is even a Witch Museum in Salem..

Black Cats - Bad luck?

Black Cat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Due to their association with the devil & witchcraft black cats are often seen as bad luck. Animal shelters have been known to avoid adopting out black cats during the month of October for fear of them being used sacrificially.
Other black cat myths of bad luck include:

* A common seafaring superstition was that if a black cat walked onto a ship and then walked off again, the ship was doomed to sink on its next voyage.

* Sixteenth-century Italians believed that if a black cat jumped on the bed of an ill person, the person would soon die.

Black Cats - Good Luck!!

Black cats are also seen as good luck charms though:

* Historically, sailors brought cats aboard ships to hunt mice and, presumably, for companionship. British sailors believed a black cat would bring the ship good luck and ensure a safe return home.

Sailor from HMAS Australia with the ships cat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*A common belief in Scotland is that a black cat arriving at your doorstep signals prosperity and in England and Ireland it is believed that a black cat crossing your path signals good luck.
 

Black Cats Could give us the answers to cure disease!

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health discovered that the genetic mutations that cause cats to have black coats may offer them some protection from diseases. In fact, the mutations affect the same genes that offer HIV resistance to humans.

Since cats can experience many of the same health issues as we do like cancer, HIV and Alzheimer’s, they make perfect models for studying human disease.

By figuring out how black cats have evolved to resist diseases, researchers can, potentially, learn how to prevent disease in humans as well.
 

So Black Cats could actually save the world!!!
 
Watch this video to see why Black Cats are truly amazing!!!!

 

HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!!

Hugs & Meows Ziggy 🐾

Ziggy & her crochet witch kitties

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

Samhain (Samain) - The Celtic Roots of Halloween, www.newgrange.com/samhain.htm.

About the Author: Billings Animal Family. “Black Cats and Halloween: The Myths, the Facts, the Dangers: Billings Animal Family Hospital.” Vet in Billings | Billings Animal Family Hospital, 14 Jan. 2019, www.billingsanimalfamilyhospital.com/black-cats-and-halloween-the-myths-the-facts-the-dangers/.

History.com Editors. “Salem Witch Trials.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 4 Nov. 2011, www.history.com/topics/colonial-america/salem-witch-trials.

Sas. “Sailor from HMAS Australia with the Ships Cat.” MilitaryImages.Net, 20 Mar. 2018, www.militaryimages.net/media/sailor-from-hmas-australia-with-the-ships-cat.88031/.

Smith, S.e. “The Spooky Truth Behind Halloween and Cats.” Catster, 27 Oct. 2015, www.catster.com/lifestyle/the-spooky-truth-about-halloween-and-cats.

Wigington, Patti. “The History of the Pagan Samhain Sabbat.” Learn Religions, Learn Religions, 27 Apr. 2019, www.learnreligions.com/about-samhain-history-2562713.

Wigington, Patti. “Meow, Baby! Black Cat Legends and Folklore.” Learn Religions, Learn Religions, 23 Sept. 2018, www.learnreligions.com/symbol-black-cats-2562705.

petMD. “PetMD.” PetMD, 30 July 2015, www.petmd.com/cat/seasonal/ct_evr_black_cats_halloween_adoption.

Photo credits:

Photo by Pexels

Photo by PublicDomainPictures

Photo by Toni Cuenca

Photo by Aleksandar  Cvetanović

Photo by Pixabay

Photo by ArtCoreStudios

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