The symbol of the skeleton has long been associated with death. This structural component to our bodies that also gives it form and offers protection to our vital organs is the only non-fleshy part that will survive beyond death. The skeleton (or sometimes just the skull) has long been used symbolically as almost an ominous warning on pirate flags, poison bottles and other places, such as to marking the location of a cemetery.
Many centuries ago, at the end of the summer harvest season, as the cooler months approached, villagers prepared for the “non-growing” season by holding a celebration. During this festival, known as “All Hallows Day,” not only was the end of the harvest season marked but it was also thought that the souls of those that had died during the prior year were released to walk the earth one last time. Because many spirits of the dead were thought to be out and about on this night, part of the tradition was to honor the dead in remembrance, and also celebrate a fruitful harvest at the same time. “All Hallows” truly became a celebration of both life and death.
Villagers prepared for the possibility of evil spirits being in the midst of the ghosts that were considered more friendly or amiable. It was common for people to dress up in costumes or disguises to attempt to scare away any evil spirits or ghoulish beings. Lanterns made from turnips with scary faces carved into them were also used as a method to scare off evil beings.
Halloween is a centuries old celebration that has evolved greatly over time. The symbols of skulls, crossbones, and ghouls will always be an inherent part of Halloween traditions because of the ancient rituals that were performed once upon a time in honor of the dead and sometimes out of fear of them as well. Today our use of these time-honored symbols is far less ominous and mostly just done in fun, but the use of ghouls and skeletons is always going to be associated with Halloween.
We have skulls, skeletons and ghouls for every possible Halloween scenario you have in mind. Make sure your haunted house or yard has several of these ghoulish beings there to welcome all your Halloween guests!