As Halloween approaches, there's no shortage of decorations for sale, usually covered with Halloween symbols that we all recognize, even if we don't know where they come from.
Along with ridiculous costumes and enough candy to make you vomit, there are some things that you find every single Halloween. Jack-o'-lanterns, ghosts, bats, black cats - a lot of these symbols have their roots in the history of Halloween. Many of them trace back to the pagan festival of Samhain, which is thought to be the most direct ancestor of our modern celebration. This was a celebration of the departed at a time when the boundary between this world and the next was believed to be much thinner than normal.
These scary symbols might not look so intimidating as decals in your window or cardboard signs hung on classroom walls, but their history is downright creepy. Full of folklore and spirituality, there's a long tradition of Halloween and deadly symbolism that you might not be aware of. So, before you grab your costume and go trick-or-treating this year, you might want to look at why we dress up in the first place. These are the origins of all your favorite Halloween symbols (and you may never look at broomsticks the same way again).