black cat and halloween

How black cats become associated with Halloween

Have you ever wondered why black cats became the target of superstition and a symbol of the spookiest time of the year? Here’s how it happened. 


Black cats and witchcraft

Black cats became associated with witchcraft centuries ago. In the Greek myths, Hera, the queen of the gods, turned her servant, Galinthias, into a black cat out of anger. As a cat, Galinthias became the assistant to Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft, ghosts, the moon and death.


Norse myths also draw a connection between black cats and witchcraft. One tale in particular recounts how the goddess Freyja rode in a chariot pulled by two black cats for seven years. At the end of their service, she freed the cats by turning them into witches.


Black cats and Samhain

The strongest connection between black cats and the modern celebration of Halloween may come from Scotland. Hundreds of years ago, the ancient Celts believed in a fairy creature called the Cat Sìth, which was said to resemble a large black cat with a white mark on its chest. People who lived in the Scottish Highlands believed that after death, the Cat Sìth could steal a person’s soul before it was claimed by the gods.


Every year on Samhain, the Celtic festival that Halloween is derived from, Highlanders would leave a saucer of milk out for the Cat Sìth in order to be blessed by the fairy creature. It was believed that those that didn’t leave out a saucer of milk would be cursed with cows that produced no milk.


Black cat superstitions in North America

Superstitions about black cats came to North America along with the Puritans who settled in New England. The Puritans believed that witches could turn themselves into black cats and that black cats were really witches. The fear of these felines was so strong that it was a common practice to burn a black cat on Shrove Tuesday in order to protect the home from fires in the coming year.


Black cats in modern times

In general, modern people recognize that black cats are similar to felines of other colours. However, their long association with witchcraft has led to them become one of the most recognizable and fun Halloween symbols out there, alongside pumpkins, bats and spiders.


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