Cats in any shade of black usually get a bad rap. You’ve probably heard that it’s bad luck for a black cat to cross your path.
However, do you know October 27th is National Black Cat Day? Yes, you read that right. There’s a special day for them. Black cats have a day marked out for them in the calendar because they’re special, just like any other cat.
Also, not everyone considers them as a bringer of bad black. Many cultures actually say they’re a good omen. So why this dichotomy? What are the origins of the bad luck and good luck stories?
We’ll find out together. Read on.
Black Cat – Bad Luck? The Origin: 1233 A.D.
Before an assertive German monk questioned them, the Catholic Church held vast power over Medieval Europe.
The Catholic Church directed thought and reason for the people. It held great political power too. At the head of all this power was the Pope. The papal authority would not tolerate any teaching or practices that went against the Catholic Church.
So when the reigning Pope at the time, Pope Gregory IX, received reports that cats were used in rituals to summon the devil, he issued a decree in 1233 that denounced cats. There were also reports that cats were used in ailuromancy, a superstitious practice that used a cat’s movements to predict the future.
From that time forth, cats, and especially black cats, were hunted and destroyed.
Comeback of Cats
Until the Protestant Reformation in 1517, the persecution of cats continued. Not even the bubonic plague of 1348 made people question their decisions to kill rodent-catching cats (but we can give the benefit of the doubt to people back then, they didn’t know what caused the plague).
The freedom of thought that followed after the Protestant Reformation and the Age of Enlightenment in the 18th century changed how people viewed cats. Now, cats were seen as companions that brought great joy.
Also, the uncovering of the Rosetta Stone in Egypt opened the door to a new world. The artifact showed that cats were revered in ancient Egypt.
This leads us to examine how other cultures viewed cats as a symbol of good luck.
Cats: A Symbol of Good Luck
The Egyptians worshipped cats, including black cats. And this was long before the Medieval Ages. But Egypt is not the only place in the world where black cats are held in high esteem. People in England, Japan, and France adore them.
Here’s a list of reasons why the black cat is considered as good luck:
- They Spark Love
Black cats are believed to bring good luck when it comes to matrimony. In Japan, single women believe that they will find a suitable hand in marriage through the good luck of black cats.
The English also believe that black cats will bless their marriage. As a result, it is common for newly married couples to have a black cat in their new home.
- Harbingers of Wealth
The English are not the only ones who believe in the black cat superstition. The hardy people of Scotland believe that if a black cat shows up at your door, it’s a sign that there’s a season of prosperity right around the corner.
Many in the south of France also believe that these felines will bring prosperity. They say that if you met a black cat in a five-way intersection, it would lead you to the treasure.
In Norse mythology, the goddess Freya is believed to be a cat person. After all, she uses a chariot pulled by two black cats. It is believed that farmers will have a bountiful harvest through the blessing of Freya, provided they feed black cats.
- Fair Winds and Calm Seas
Many sailors across Europe, including those in England, believe that black cats bring good luck on a voyage. So they were carried aboard and treated like royalty. This ensured, according to common belief, that sailors would have a successful voyage and would return home in one piece. This made black cats in high demand and thus quite expensive for sailors to afford.
- Give Respect, Earn Fortunes
Heading back to the south of France, many believed that treating black cats like kings (or queens) brought good fortune.
Folk believed that black cats were magic cats. So they were given beds to sleep in, the first bite of their dinners, and some were given homes to stay in after the owner’s passing.
People in Germany and Ireland believed that they would have good luck if a black cat walked towards them. But if the feline walked past them, that meant bad luck.
Some people in Italy say that if a black cat sneezed, you could expect a host of good fortune to come your way.
It shows how powerful beliefs are. At one fell swoop (or by a Pope’s decree) black cats were condemned to be killed on sight.
Thankfully, that’s not how the world always saw cats. Black cats were revered in many cultures including in Japan and Egypt.
Today, cats of any color are considered a joy to have around.