Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Michael. Michael Wonders, “why do people think black cats bring bad luck” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Michael!
You’re heading home from a long day at school. The few blocks you have to walk to your house usually fly by as you look forward to an after-school snack. After a day full of tests, though, you’re moving slower than normal.
Up ahead, you notice something in the distance. In the dim light, you can’t make out what it is. As you approach, it takes shape. It’s a black cat. As it hears your footsteps, it streaks across the street just in front of you.
Oh, no! What should you do? Should you stop, turn around, and take the long way home by going around the block? Or should you go on, ignoring the nervous feeling in the pit of your stomach? After all, it might just be a silly superstition, right? Could a black cat crossing your path really bring bad luck?
That’s what many people think. The link between black cats, bad luck, and evil has been around for hundreds of years. But why? How did a cuddly little kitty cat get such a bad reputation?
After all, things surely didn’t start that way for the humble feline. Over 5,000 years ago, the ancient Egyptians revered and even worshiped cats. A person caught killing a cat could face death.
So what happened? Most experts trace superstitions about black cats back to Europe in the Middle Ages. They accused some older women of witchcraft and doing black magic. Many of these women had cats, so they became guilty, too.
Folklore circulated in the mid-16th century, which gave a reason to believe the ideas. A legend said that a father and son traveled on a moonless night when a black cat crossed their path.
They threw stones at the cat until the poor, injured animal found its way into the nearby home of a woman thought to be a witch. The next day, the father and son saw the woman bruised and limping, which led them to tell people that the woman—and thus all other witches—could turn into black cats at night to prowl the streets unseen.
This belief fed the frenzy in America during the time of the Salem witch trials. Of course, the link between black cats and evil or bad luck is only a superstition. Still, it is an idea held by many people. In fact, the next time Halloween rolls around, notice how many black cats you see on Halloween decorations.
It’s not all bad news for black cats, however. There are some places in the world where they honor black cats. For example, many people in Scotland, Great Britain, Japan, and Russia view black cats as signs of good luck and success!
Standards: CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.4, CCRA.L.5, CCRA.SL.3, CCRA.SL.5, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.W.4