You probably shrug them off as Old Wives Tales, silly superstitions, or just coincidental occurrences, but classic Halloween superstitions continue to be passed down through generations. Whatever type of story they may be, there are hundreds of Halloween superstitions and stories that stick with us year after year, and even if we don’t really want to believe them they still make us do a double take now and then. From ringing bells to scare away spirits, to avoiding our own shadow in the moonlight, here are just seven Halloween superstitions and customs that have stuck with us through time; and many that we might not really want to believe:
Unexplained candle burnouts. If you’re burning candles on Halloween and there’s no breeze or a drafty door to explain it, the only reasonable explanation is there’s a ghost in the house. A disappearing flame on the candle burned on Halloween means there’s a ghost in the house. A welsh Halloween superstition believes that a flame that suddenly turns blue means there’s a ghost nearby.
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Spirit-chasing bells. A medieval superstition that still lingers today, the ringing of bells (or chimes, doorbells, and other sound-making devices) is supposed to chase away evil spirits.
Flying bats. If you happen to catch sight of bats flying around your house–either inside or outside–this could be a sign of ghosts and spirits nearby. Grab the garlic.
Black and white cats. In Britain, white cats are a sign of bad luck and may mean evil spirits are lurking close by. Black cats have often been associated with the devil, and even though many black cat owners will insist this is just a superstition, Halloween calls for many witch and black cat duos. Seeing a black cat, or simply crossing paths with one over Halloween, could be a sign of negative things ahead.
Halloween birthdays. According to Welsh legends, children born on Halloween will have special powers to ward off evil spirits and the ‘gift of second sight.’
The moonlight shadow. Another Celtic superstition involves the moon; if you catch your shadow in the moonlight, you’re simply doomed to bad luck–and even death.
Big brother spiders. A European superstition involves seeing spiders on Halloween; if you find a few lurking in your room or house on Halloween night, it means that the spirit of a dead loved one is watching over you. Very comforting, indeed.
While most of these might make you think twice this year, a strange encounter might lead you to knock on wood and hope for the best. . .