Bats and Halloween go way back. They have a long and sordid association, like 2,500 years ago kind of way back. Learn more about how bats were first tied to the spooky season and how that relationship still plays out today.
Samhain, the Irish and the Celtics
Some speculate that the Celtics were the first to bring the harvest celebration of Samhain to Ireland. However, Irish literature that predates the arrivals of the Celts by several hundred years mentions the festival. Druids in Ireland spend centuries building large bonfires celebrating the harvest season and trying to communicate with spirits.
Some bats eat thousands of bugs each night because they are nocturnal animals, and sometimes more if they are getting ready for hibernation. Samhain fell during the same time that Halloween does on our modern calendar. Not only are the two holidays linked and similar, but they coincide with the month leading up to bat hibernation season. If Irish druids built big bonfires, bugs were very likely also to attend the festivities. Bats came to do what they do best: rid the world of bugs.
Except, the Irish and later even the Celts had no idea what bats were or what they were doing as they dove in and out of the firelight making high-pitched noises. We now know that bats are efficient bug eaters with echolocation, not human superpredators or evil winged creatures. Even bats that are sanguivorous prefer the blood of goats and birds to humans. Regardless, as a result, bats were associated with unwelcomed spirits with harmful intentions, a misnomer that would follow them for thousands of years.
All Saints Day and Halloween Merge
Samhain came to a close when the Romans took over and pressed the Catholic doctrine on all its lands. Fearing a revolt and in an attempt to slowly win over its new people, the church made All Saints Day. This unique holiday was what they considered an acceptable, religious-based replacement that would still allow a similar reverence minus the fires and dancing and any other evil-looking stuff. This lasted for some time and went through several iterations until everyone gave up the ghost and the holiday eventually melded into a similar version of what we know Halloween to be today. But what about the bats?
Bram Stoker and His Famous Count
Holidays aside, people already had the lore of bats firmly in place to keep the fear going during all the holiday transitions. Bram Stoker created the myth behind vampire bats; creatures will turn from human-vampire to vampire bats at dark to seek out human blood. After the exsanguination is complete, the victim and the master are eternally damned and forever undead. The vampires who defied nature are stuck in the liminal place between heaven and hell. Does it seem a lot like the original story from Samhain? It essentially is.
The Seasons of the Bat
Bats are even now a popular Halloween decoration and costume because they have been a staple of Halloween lore for hundreds and hundreds of years. Bats went through a more cuddly phase when several species were on the endangered list, and many still are. However, with current media coverage, the depiction of the bat has swung back to the dark and evil villain that Samhain first made it. No matter to the bat, though, as it continues to do meaningful work like managing pests, pollinating flowers, and reforesting areas for the benefit of humankind.
Do your part to protect the bats. Contact Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control in Coquitlam if you need professional bat removal services. The specialists at Skedaddle will remove the bats in your home or nearby structures without harming the bats, ensuring their safety.