Out of all things horror related, why are bats and Halloween such a match made in heaven?
Jack-o’-lanterns, spiders, witches, black cats, pumpkins…Halloween is filled with a cornucopia of delightfully wicked things. But out of all of them, it seems like the bat is the one most people think about when they refer to their favorite October holiday.
And, of course, there are scientists who asked themselves why that was. First of all, it’s important to mention a few things about bats. Autumn is definitely their favorite season and they try to make the best out of it in food and fun before they head out south for the winter, with everybody else.
Mr. Nate Fuller, a graduate student with Boston University’s bat biology program has developed a theory that the Irish and Scottish immigrants who brought with them their pre-Halloween traditions from the mother land, would have seen thousands upon thousands of bats flying around this time of year and would have associated fall and, evidently, the Halloween holiday with them.
The pre-Halloween tradition Mr. Fuller speaks of is a Celtic holiday called Samhain. It’s the festival of the dead and it translates into “Summer’s End”. It pronounces saa-ween and usually it celebrated the end of harvest and, also, the start of the second part of the year, the coldest. It was celebrated on the night of October 31st, just like Halloween is and the whole day of November 1st. The holiday is still celebrated today in some parts of the Celtic lands, such as Wales, Cornwall and Brittany.
There is another theory about why bats are most commonly associated with Halloween, coming from another scholar. Because, yes, people seem to have given this a lot of time and thought. Tom French, the assistant director of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife said that in the US people are afraid of bats. Therefore, they might be linked to Halloween via fear, this common factor that unites us all.
Interestingly enough, our fear of bats is completely unfounded. Most of them are small, and eat insects and fruit. They do not harm human beings because they have no interest in doing so and because they do not have the ability to do it.
But Mr. French says the people’s attitude is slowly shifting. In his opinion, people have gone from wanting to get rid of bats, to protecting them actually. Nowadays, people seem to think bats are rather cute and not scary at all.
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