Halloween is a derivation of All Hallow’s Eve, the night before All Hallow’s Day. In this country All Hallow’s Day, November 1st, is better known as All Souls Day. Most holidays and festivals have lots of symbols or short cuts to represent the meanings and rituals of the specific celebration. Such symbols are combined, borrowed from, evolved and otherwise changed over time. For example, millions of American children dressed as ghosts, ghouls, warlocks, witches, pirates and princesses knock on their neighbor’s doors gleefully shouting “Trick or treat”. Pretty much all of them are clear on the definition of treat. Based on personal interviews, most have no idea of what the trick part is or what they might do should someone should not produce a treat. Probably a good thing.
Speaking of symbols, would you be surprised to learn that black cats are, in many quarters, believed to bring good luck? The Scots are certain that prosperity follows a black cat in the door. Such dark felines are positively revered in Britain and Japan. Some have been elevated to positions of great merit. Gladstone has won a lifelong position as Chief Mouser in Her Majesty’s Treasury. One simply can’t have mice chewing up the notes sterling for their nests.
Writers in particular seem to have a special affection for black cats. Edgar Allen Poe penned a famed short story called “The Black Cat”. Samuel Johnson immortalized his Hodge as did the city of London with a stately statue. Felix the Cat, of early cartoon celebrity, enchanted Charlie Chaplin. Even the phenomenon of the Simpsons had a black cat called Snowball II.
So where did the suspicion that black cats were bad luck originate? There’s no authority to make a definitive statement. Probably that idea comes from the same place that so many unfounded suspicions are birthed. Out of thin air.
We want to recognize the contribution of black cats to our lives. We want to repudiate the undeserved slurs against them as portents of bad fortune. Consequently, this week we are offering a darkly chocolate Trick or Treat ready recipe, Mini Black Cat Fudge Brownies. Try to leave a few for the trick or treaters.