Black cats: Guilty by association with accused witches
Possibly the most epitomic superstition is the black cat. Ironically, cats used to be venerated in Ancient Egypt, and even allotted god-like status. However, the middle ages saw their fall (more like plummet) from grace, thanks to the Catholic church. Around the 17th century, the church went on a witch hunt, accusing many people of practicing magic. Unfortunately for them, black cats became guilty by association because the accused witches, often older women, kept black cats as pets. The Catholic church called them their “familiars” and believed these animals assisted in black magic performances. Some people also believed witches turned into black cats in order to walk the streets of town unnoticed (although this legend comes from one story told by a father and son in the 1500s). From this ugly period in history, black cats were then seen as harbingers of bad luck. Thankfully, though, they are treated much more kindly today, embodying the Halloween spirit in America.