Bats seem to fascinate us at any time and around Halloween they become almost ubiquitous. But what is the connection between these flying mammals and the Halloween celebration?
There are many theories, but there are also many reasons why bats are perceived as spooky - partly due to their characteristics, like being nocturnal or the way they hang upside down.
The Samhain festival
For one of the theories, we need to go back around 2000 years when Great Britain and Ireland were occupied by a group of people commonly referred to as The Celts.
The Celtic people celebrated a festival called Samhain (“SAH-win”) on the 31st of October. This festival is one of the predecessors of Halloween, so kind of like Halloween’s grandad! During this festival, the Celts believed that the division between this world and the otherworld was at its thinnest, and this could allow spirits to cross into our world.
The festival would involve huge bonfires, lots of food and costumes. The costumes were believed to help ward against the fairies and spirits kidnapping them.
The bonfires would attract vast numbers of flying insects, all attracted by the light, encouraging the bats who would make the most of this all-you-can-eat buffet to fatten themselves up for the coming winter!
The erratic swooping of the bats hunting made the celts believe that the bats were spirits up to mischief.