ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Halloween Symbols- Where did they come from?

Updated on December 30, 2014

Halloween Symbols


This lens explores bits of history on our favourite Halloween symbols:


The Devil

Black Cats




Jack O' Lanterns

Make sure you answer the poll at the end of the page to let everyone know which symbol is your favourite.

Photo Credit:

What do ghosts like for breakfast?

Booberry Muffins

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:


A short history

Photo Credit:

The Celtic people feared October 31st because it was the eve of the festival of "Samhain" (Lord of the Dead). To please "Samhain" they held fire rites (burning people, animals and objects). The way people died showed them omens of the future, good and bad.

"Samhain" was also a joyful harvest festival. It marked the end of the old year and the beginning of a new one.

Photo Credit:  FreeHDWalls.Net
Photo Credit: FreeHDWalls.Net


Photo credit: FreeHDWalls.Net

Goblins were believed to live underground. Scholars believe that during the Stone Age, small dark skinned people lived in Northern Europe and the British Isles.

They lived in the forest, or in hiding, near forts and towns. They wore green clothing to blend into the fields and forests.

Housewives would put out dishes of food for the dwarf people at night to keep them from harming her home and family. Stories were handed down and turned into the "golbins" we know today.

Photo Credit: luoman
Photo Credit: luoman

Devil (Satan)

Photo Credit: luoman

Both the Hebrew and Christian religions had devils and demons. In the Christian tradition, Satan was created good but chose to become evil. He was cast out of heaven and became the source of all evil.

In the Middle Ages, the Devil inherited a suave appearance. He became an evil looking man with horns, a forked tail and cloven hooves.

Photo Credit: inky2010
Photo Credit: inky2010

Black Cat

Photo Credit: inky2010

The black cat is one of the most popular Halloween symbols (along with the witch and the Jack O' Lanterns).

Long before Halloween, cats were thought to have magical powers. They were tamed in ancient Egypt to keep grain storehouses free of rats and mice

.The Egyptians worshiped a cat-headed goddess named "Pasht".

Phoenicians carried cats with them on their ships. They traded cats for precious tin in Western Europe.

For Druids, cats were human beings who were changed into animals by evil powers. When a cat was found guilty of being a witch's familiar was killed with the witch.

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:


In Ancient Rome, owls were considered the ;harbinger of evil'. On the other hand, in Greece they were considered sacred animals.The owl was a familiar of Athens and the Greek goddess of wisdom.

The screech owl in particular was related to witches. Even today some people believe that the sound of screech owls means the coming of death or disaster.

Photo Credit: SEO Powered By SEOPressor
Photo Credit: SEO Powered By SEOPressor


Photo Credit: SEO Powered By SEOPressor

Early pictures of witches show them worshiping a horned figure with the wings of a bat. Bat blood was used by witches as ointment rubbed on their bodies before attending Sabbath. People said that when bats slept (upside down) their wings looked like a witch's cloak.

Photo Credit: OCAL
Photo Credit: OCAL


Photo Credit: OCAL

The Scotch, the Irish and the English feared ghosts. Halloween was the night when ghosts would return to their former homes.

In Gaul and Britain, people lit huge fires above the hilltops to guide kindly ghosts on their journey home and to frighten evil ones away. To them, ghosts could be good or bad.

Children born on Halloween were said to be able to see and talk to ghosts.

Halloween became the night for divining the future.

Photo Credit:  Contexture International.
Photo Credit: Contexture International.

Jack O' Lantern

Photo Credit: Contexture International.

In the 1900s, lantern men were referred to as Jack O' Lanterns. Lantern men were pale eerie lights that appeared over bogs and marshes and bobbed like a lantern in someone's hand.

Ghostly lights hovering over graves dug in marshy places were called "Corpse Candles".

Fishermen in Kent use to see them above treacherous swampland on the coast. They believed them to be signals from souls lost at sea. The 'Will-O'-the Wisp" would lead a person to a watery death if followed.

Scientist call these mysterious lights 'ignis fatuus' (foolish fire). The light comes from the phosphorescence that gives the firefly its flashing light. Another explanation is that spontaneous combustion of methane gas in the bogs and marshes. The same gas is found in the 'firedamp' that causes mine explosions.

Scottish children look for the largest turnips from the harvest at Halloween, hollowed them out and carved faces on them. They call them bogies and carry them to scare away witches.

What is your favourite Halloween symbol?

See results

Let me know what you think

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)