The celts believed that the dead and other out worldly entities get access to enter earth on a certain evening and dressing up as ghosts and other spooky creatures would ward them off. Thus, most Halloween symbols revolve around death, misfortune, and bad omens. Here are 19 Halloween iconography explained.
19 Halloween Symbols
- Jack O Lanterns
An Irish folktale says that Stingy Jack summoned the devil to turn into a coin in order to pay for his drink. The Devil obliged but Jack didn’t spend the money and had the devil trapped in a coin beside a cross.
Later on, he released the devil after the devil promised not to take his soul. A few years later when Jack died he was denied entry in both heaven and hell for his wrongdoings and was given a turnip Jack O Lantern to roam the earth.
Halloween Was Originally Celebrated by _____
- A. Vikings
- B. The Celts
- C. The Norsemen
- D. The Shouters
- Why Is the Pumpkin a Symbol for Halloween?
The Irish used turnips as Jack O Lanterns until they migrated to America (New World) during the potato famine. Following this, the turnip lantern traditions were switched to pumpkins.
- Skeleton Halloween Symbols
The pagan festival Samhain (The Feast of the Dead) used skeletons as a symbol while offering food. This slowly evolved into becoming the dancing skeletons and skulls that represent mortality and end.
- ScareCrow/ Stick Figure
The Celts believed that the dead would destroy crops and a scarecrow would scare away them just like they scare away the birds.
The celts added ghosts because they thought that dead family members would come to visit them when the bridge between the living and the dead opened. (Like from the Disney movie COCO)
- Witch Signs and Symbols
Witches were supernatural women who could heal any disease/disability according to the celts. But most of them were considered to be spawns of satan.
Since witches were women, the patriarchal society rumored broomsticks smeared with flying oil as a mode of transport to the dead’s world.
Witches used apples to poison people. (Just like sleeping beauty)
- Why Are Black Cats Considered a Halloween Symbol
During witch trials, it was rumored that witches had turned themselves into black cats in order to flee. Thus, black cats were also hunted along with women considered witches.
Bonfires lit during the festivals often attracted insects and bats that ate them. Thus, the blood-sucking vampire bats became important.
Spiders were usually found nesting in graveyards and haunted houses and the existence of deadly spiders spooked the celts.
Since vampires were believed to have the ability to shapeshift into bats. The inclusion of bats resulted in the origin of vampire stories as well.
- Animal Skulls/Hoods
Long before Disney and Marvel characters entered the realm of Halloween costumes, animal skulls and hoods were famous Halloween costumes.
Unlike the owls from Harry Potter, the hooting of these nocturnal birds actually spooked people crossing dense forests.
Blood represents evil rituals, vampires, death, mortals and is known to instill fear easily.
Who can represent trick or treating better than a clown?
Since Halloween in late spring during the harvest of corn and wheat, husks were a popular choice for Halloween decorations.
- Orange and Black Colors
Orange represents the beginning of autumn after Halloween and black for All Hallow’s Eve.
- Other Spooky Symbols
Weird and creepy dancing macabre symbols from satanic books, cults, and rituals were used as Halloween symbols/decorations.