Why are Spiders a Symbol of Halloween?
The Origin of Halloween
The root of Halloween celebrations can be traced back to a Celtic holiday known as Samhain. Samhain was recognized by pagans as the transition from the lively summertime into the depths of cold, barren wintertime. As such, it became known as the “season of death.” From there, the holiday continued to transform until it became the fun Trick-or-Treating celebrations of today.
There are a few reasons why spiders became a symbol of this holiday, the most obvious being that their harrowing appearance and ability to create a spine-chilling response in most people make them the perfect additions to the macabre setting of the “season of death.” But there is far more to their relation to Halloween than just that…
Spider Superstitions and Creepy Connotations
In medieval European folklore spiders were considered one of the “evil companions” of hags and witches (along with bats, rats and black cats). In this sense, spiders somewhat suffer from the phenomenon of “guilt by association” and, due to this, many different superstitions about the creepy crawlers became rampant throughout Europe before spreading worldwide. Some of these odd superstitions include:
- If a spider falls into flames, a witch is nearby
- If you see a spider on Halloween, it’s the spirit of a dead person watching over you
- If a white spider makes a web above your bed, you’ll have good luck. But if a black spider makes a web above your bed, you’ll soon have misfortune.
- If you step on a spider you will cause rainy weather
- Drinking a spider with syrup cures fever
Along with these superstitions, spiders are also present in both pagan rituals and magic folklore. It was even believed by some cultures that their ability to spin webs was a form of magical powers or witchcraft – again connecting them to evil.
Not only are spiders “guilty be association” through these folklore, superstitions, etc. but by the places they tend to inhabit as well. They prefer areas of low traffic, darkness, and places where there are other insects for them to eat. As such, they are often found in places like cellars, attics, abandoned houses, and other areas that we generally deem as dark and creepy – creating a negative association.
Increased Spider Activity During Halloween-time
Spider superstitions and their creepy dispositions aside, there is also an increase in spider activity in the Autumn. When the temperature drops, pest activity in general spikes as different insects will be on the search for a new place to call home. As spiders feast on various other species of insects, their activity also increases as they follow their prey. Unfortunately, they often end up following these other insects into homes where they begin spinning webs under shelter for the coming cold months.
Due to all of these reasons, their association with both the time of year and holiday makes a lot of sense. They have truly become a macabre mascot of Halloween. But no matter how fun they are as decorations… we can agree that we prefer the real creepy crawlers stay far away from us. Call us today to make sure your home is protected against the real scary specters of Halloween-time.
Cherry, K. (2020) 10 of the Most Common Phobias , Very Well Mind. Available at: https://www.verywellmind.com/most-common-phobias-4136563 (Accessed: July 2020).
Melina, R. (2011) 13 Halloween Superstitions & Traditions Explained, LiveScience. Available at: https://www.livescience.com/16677-halloween-superstitions-traditions.html (Accessed: October 2020).
Zielinski, S. (2011) Wicked Bugs (and Spiders and Worms and other Creepy Crawlies), The Smithsonian Magazine. The Smithsonian Institute. Available at: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/wicked-bugs-and-spiders-and-worms-and-other-creepy-crawlies-167195381/ (Accessed: October 2020).