Spooky Halloween Superstitions

Halloween superstitions helped people who wrestled with their fears of the supernatural believe they had some control over what they felt were true threats to health and safety. Most Halloween customs have evolved from these actions, beliefs and rituals that were designed to keep demons, ghosts and other spooks from bothering the living.

Fire
To ancient people, fire was the ultimate weapon against the darkness; therefore, fire plays an important role in Halloween superstitions. A candle placed in a carved turnip or pumpkin frightened evil spirits away, while a candle flame that turned from yellow to blue meant a spirit is present. People lit bonfires at dusk and watched all night long to ensure no devils would take anyone's soul. Home fires lit by a torch from the sacred bonfire also kept spirits away from the home.

Black Cats
Long thought of as associates of witches and devils, black cats are thought to bring bad luck to anyone whose path they cross. Many people thought that black cats were the Devil himself. Many cities in Europe in medieval times encouraged people to kill any black cat they saw.

Costumes
Early Celtics thought that during Samhain, the precursor to Halloween, people should dress up in furs, masks and cloaks to deceive spirits who may be seeking them out. Others put out food to appease evil spirits and feed the souls of any ancestors that might be visiting. A later Halloween custom featured fall festivals and celebrations with costumed people in parades and dances, further associating Halloween with costumes.

Fortune Telling
Telling fortunes on Halloween is a common party game or parlor trick, but it wasn't too long ago that people believed in certain fortune-telling rituals. Divining the future from stones, bones and shells on Halloween was thought to be the most accurate. A young woman who wished to see the face of her future husband would put some rosemary into her pillow, and then she'd dream of him that night. She could also bring a lantern to a fresh spring at midnight and see his face in the reflection.

Furthermore, Halloween was considered to give rise to fortune-tellers. Tradition held that a child born on Halloween would be able to communicate with the dead and predict the future.

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