Every year, the end of October is filled with mystery, witchery, and superstition. It’s Halloween time! As it approaches, we dress in scary costumes and hang up the spookiest decorations. There are plenty of Halloween symbols we surround ourselves with — skeletons, ghosts, cobwebs, and the list goes on. But where did they come from, and what does all this Halloween imagery represent?

Let’s find out the meanings behind the most popular Halloween symbols! And if you’re planning a special Halloween project for your marketing campaign, we prepared 8 thematic collections of photos and videos with free files included. Attract attention to your posts, newsletters, and ads with the best content selected by us.

A List of the Most Popular Halloween Symbols:

  1. Halloween Pumpkins
  2. Witch Symbols
  3. Halloween Bats
  4. Ghosts
  5. Black Cats
  6. Scarecrows
  7. Halloween Spiders
  8. Skeletons & Skulls

8 Halloween Symbols and Their Meanings

1. Halloween Pumpkin

A carved pumpkin is probably the most classic Halloween symbol. Its story goes back to ancient Ireland, where the Celts carved turnips and put an ember inside to scare evil spirits away. Ireland had no pumpkins, but everyone switched to it in other countries!

What does the jack o lantern symbolize? The Irish legend says we carve a face on the pumpkin because of a drunk named Stingy Jack. He played many tricks in his lifetime, making God and the Devil so angry that they didn’t accept him to Heaven or Hell after his death. Stingy Jack became ​a doomed soul, condemned to wander the earth forever. To light his way, the Devil gave him a lump of burning coal which he put inside a carved turnip.

When the holiday comes, almost every doorstep or window is decorated with carved pumpkins. Although its original meaning has slightly changed, it’s still one of the most common Halloween symbols.

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2. Witch Symbols

The iconic silhouette of a witch against a background of the full moon is another classic Halloween symbol. The modern image of a witch includes a pointy hat, a hooked nose, and a long broomstick. But why do witches represent Halloween?

In the Middle Ages, people believed some females had supernatural powers — that’s why they were called witches, which meant “wise ones.” At first, witches were regarded as mighty healers, but later witchcraft became associated with black magic. For their ability to cast powerful spells, they were thought to draw their strengths from the Devil. They’re believed to accumulate the most power in October, when the days become darker and the nights longer.

It’s relatively easy to dress up as a witch, and that is why you are sure to meet them haunting you around Halloween. Be careful, or they might cast a spell on you!

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3. Halloween Bat

Why are bats associated with Halloween? Well, what can be scarier than creatures living in a dark cave and only becoming active in the nighttime? Linked with evil and death, bats have become one of the most recognizable symbols of the holiday.

The creepy thing is that there are bats that actually drink the blood of other animals. That’s why bats are also closely connected to vampire symbols and stories. Thanks to the famous Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel and modern-day horror movies, many people believe vampires can transform into bats and vice versa. Whether the story is true, you definitely don’t want to be bitten by a bat or a vampire!

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4. Black Cats

Black cats can be found all over Halloween background decorations. In many countries, their symbolism differs — for some, they are a sign of good luck, and for others, a sign of bad omens. Either way, black cats are shrouded with myths and superstitions! But why are black cats considered a Halloween symbol?

In Medieval times people believed witches and evil magicians could turn themselves into black cats. Since they could easily hide in the dark, they were the perfect disguise for evil sorcerers that were being hunted. Moreover, some people used to believe black cats were wicked demons that concealed themselves as animals to spy on humans.

With the color black being closely related to death and evil, no wonder black cats have become icons of the Halloween season.

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5. Ghosts

Ghosts are the spirits of dead people who didn’t get into Heaven or Hell; so, instead, they roam the living world. Since Halloween is a time when the worlds of life and death are least separated, people believe that ghosts actively try to find their way out.

As spirits can freely wander around the living on Halloween night, they can visit their homes and loved ones. However, not all of them are nice and friendly, which is something we’ve seen plenty of in movies. Some ghosts will even haunt their enemies, which is also why they’ve become a perfect symbol for this spooky holiday.

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6. Scarecrows

It’s no surprise that there are an abundant amount of scarecrows in October. They were meant to instill fear in outlanders and frighten them away from fields during harvest season. After the gathering of crops ended, people usually burned scarecrows in celebration rituals. Later, their ashes were returned to the soil as a symbol of the resurrection of the crops.

In today’s culture, scarecrows have lost their original purpose and meaning, but they still spread mystery and fear during Halloween. People usually dress them in dirty old clothes with pumpkins as heads, or choose spookier costumes with skulls and blood. They’re bound to terrify anyone who passes by.

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7. Halloween Spiders

In ancient times, spiders were a symbol of mystery and magic. Because of their natural ability to spin webs, they were considered weavers of fate that could predict death. How did spiders become symbols for Halloween?

Well, there are several reasons for that. Like black cats, they are also associated with witchcraft, and like bats, they live in dark, creepy, and abandoned places. Now, add the fact that spiders are visually terrifying, with bites so bad that they can kill. No wonder people tend to be afraid of them!

As Halloween approaches, spider-inspired costumes, makeup, and decorations can be seen almost everywhere. Spiders naturally evoke an unsettling feeling, which makes them one of the spookiest symbols of Halloween.

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8. Skeletons & Skulls

As we’ve already stated, Halloween is a time when the worlds of life and death are least separated. For this reason, people constantly think about their mortality. And there is no other Halloween symbol that represents death better than skeletons and skulls. They remind people of what’s to come.
Skulls are also a significant symbol for El Dia De Los Muerto, or The Day of The Dead, which is a traditional celebration in Mexico. Although the Mexican skull is closely connected to death, it is decorated with colorful ornaments as a symbol of remembrance.
We are used to seeing cheerful decorations with dancing skeletons, among other cute Halloween symbols. But once you think of their origins, things become pretty creepy.

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To wrap it up:

Today, Halloween has become more commercialized than ever. To most of us, it’s an occasion to dress up in a scary costume, decorate our home, and throw a party with some friends. Using the Halloween theme in your upcoming campaigns is a great way to connect with your audience and increase engagement.

At the same time, while using Halloween symbols, we should consider their past meanings; all of which are rooted in ancient folklore and traditions. Many of them have rich histories deeply connected to fears, superstitions, and danger. If you are going to use any of the classic Halloween symbols in your seasonal projects, add value to them by diving deeper into their cultural context! Look into our collections of thematic photos and videos with free files included to find inspiration for future projects.

Other articles you might find interesting:

Cheerful Ways to Get Ready for Halloween in 2021

Your Halloween Kit: Thematic Design Templates, Photo Collections, and Marketing Ideas

10 Short Scary Stories to Read This Halloween

40 Free Pumpkin Carving Stencils From Depositphotos

Depositphotos Halloween Video: Find Your Fears


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