Halloween and black cats go together like bread and jam. Connections between cats and Halloween derive from the Middle Ages, when it was believed that cats are companions of witches, or that they are even witches. However, not all cultures consider black cats to be bad.
The ancient Egyptians believed that black cats have divine power. They believed that because of the way that the black cat looks: velvety yellow-green or glowing yellow eyes, elegant body, the softness of their hair and sharpness of claws and teeth. In several other cultures, a black cat is (was) a symbol of good luck and prosperity.
The dark side of black cats was most likely developed in the dark Middle Ages, when the black colour itself was considered to be a shadowy force. With their features and their colour, black cats were perfect for scapegoats. In particular, women who lived more secluded from the society, have always preferred to socialize with cats. Usually, these women were special, one way or another, and it not take much for them to be declared witches and cats delcared as their companions/helpers.
According to the beliefs, witches themselves could be bewitched into a black cat and crept anywhere at night. Black cats even represented the devil himself. All of this is supported by the record of Pope Gregory IX., who in 1932 wrote that black cats are the devil’s instrument and a symbol of heresy. Just like witches, black cats were also put on trial and they were blamed for the misery and many other ailments.
Despite the fact that the Middle Ages have long been over, black cats retained their mystery. However, black cats are not everywhere considered a harbinger of disaster. In Asia and the UK, people consider black cats as animals that bring good luck. In Yorkshire in England, people believe that they will have luck if they have a black cat in the household, but at the same time, they also believe that they will have an accident if a black cat crosses their way. Among interesting superstitions, associated with black cats, is also a superstition that if funeral procession encounters a black cat, someone else will die in the family. In Italy in the 16th century, it was believed that the sick man will die if a black cat lies down on his bed.
One of the interesting proverbs is a Scottish proverb, which says that a foreign black cat on a porch brings prosperity to the owner of the house. According to another proverb, if one finds a white hair in black cat’s fur, this person will have good luck in life. However, this white hair must not be pulled out, because in that case, bad luck will come.
Black cats are also strongly associated with witches. Beside witches, black cats are the most popular costume, home decoration theme and party theme on Halloween. The incineration of witches is long gone, but superstitions associated with black cats remain. Well, as the American comedian Grouch Marx once said: “If a black cat crosses your way, it means that it is going somewhere.”
By: Janette Verdnik