Posted on September 24, 2014
Halloween Traditions: Black Cats and Pointy Hats
It’s that time of year again! The temps are dropping. You can’t throw a rock without hitting a pumpkin flavored something. And all the stores are full of black cats and pointy witch hats. Have you ever wondering how those traditions came to be? We’ll we thought it would be fun to find out, or at least try. Last week we talked about the general origins of Halloween, the pumpkin carving and trick-or-treating. Today we are taking on pointy hats and black cats.
Witch hats are everywhere right now. Big, small and even some adorable tiny ones on headbands, but they all have one thing in common. They are pointy. Why? The short answer is… no one really knows. Don’t you hate those answers? Sorcerers have long been depicted as wearing conical shaped hats. Yes long before Mickey worn one in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, but although there are plenty of depictions of female witches during the middle ages, none of them are shown wearing pointy hats.
One theory goes that they were in fashion at one point during the middle ages. As goes with fashion they were long out of style by the time the peasants started wearing them. This corresponded with the time of the witch trials and may have caused the association. All we really know is that in the early 18th century, children’s’ writers began depicting witches as ugly, old women in pointy black hats. These stories, such as Hansel and Gretel became immensely popular and the rest is history.
The black cat superstitions on the other paw (see what we did there? LOL) are a little easier to understand. Cats are basically nocturnal. In medieval times there weren’t any streetlights. Therefore a black cat coming out of nowhere and crossing your path with those reflective green eyes would probably scare the bejeepers out of anyone! Given the difficult living conditions of that time, many poor folks, including elderly women were homeless and living on the streets of the cities. They would care for these stray cats. These women were often accused of witchcraft, linking black cats and witches forever.
Black cats haven’t always had such a bad reputation. When sailors would take on a cat to help keep the rats away on the ship, choosing a black cat was considered good luck. Sailors’ wives also believe that having a black cat around the house would give their husbands smooth waters and bring them home safely. The Japanese believed that black cats were lucky, and the Scottish thought a strange black cat showing up at your door would bring prosperity. Then of course, there is ancient Egypt where due to the worship of the Goddess Bast, cats were revered, and killing one was punishable by death.
Regardless, though, the superstition still persists, and the real tragedy is that black cats are significantly less likely to be adopted than most other colors. This leaves many looking for a home.
So, this Halloween, wear your pointy witches hat with pride (although we aren’t really sure why) and the next time you decide to adopt a cat, consider a black one.
Do you have a black cat that is a beloved member of your family? Show them to us!! Post to our Facebook wall, or tag us on Instagram (@taffordscrubs) or Twitter (@tafford). And don’t forget to check out all of our fun and spooky Halloween themed scrubs here Don’t forget to check out all of our fun and spooky Halloween themed scrubs here!