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A Decorative Past: How Spiders Became a Symbol of Halloween

We unravel the web of mystery around one of the spookiest icons of Halloween: the spider. It turns out, there is a surprisingly sentimental superstition about sighting a spider on All Hallow's Eve.

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We tend to get the heebie-jeebies from these creepy crawlers. But spiders tend to get an unfair reputation, especially around Halloween.

 

Make the Giant Spider Queen

We tend to get the heebie-jeebies from these creepy crawlers. But spiders tend to get an unfair reputation, especially around Halloween.

 

We all know that Halloween -– with all of the costumes and candy and nighttime celebrating -– is strongly rooted in pagan beliefs. Therefore, plenty of medieval superstitions made it into the mix. Among them: the bad luck of a black cat's crossing, how jack-o'-lanterns carved and lit by candlelight can scare away evil spirits, and, of course, the arachnophobe's nightmare -- the spider. But why did this critter become a symbol of evil?

 

The spider's story stretches back to ancient times. In many cultures around the world, they were revered as mystical creatures for their ability to weave intricate webs. They were depicted in folklore as storytellers, oracles of fate in the cycle of life (this has to do with their eight legs), foretellers of financial wealth, and sometimes, harbingers of death. People believed it was severely bad luck to kill a spider (so you might reconsider squashing the ones you find at home). It was only around the time of witch hunts -- when common folk were petrified by the idea of witches -- that spiders became a bad omen. Like other creatures of the night, they were associated with witchcraft.

 

But according to medieval superstition, people believed that if you saw a spider on Halloween, it was the spirit of a dead loved one who was watching you. That's a sweeter notion to something that usually makes us scream and recoil in fear, isn't it? So you might think differently about that arachnid neighbor spinning a cobweb outside your windowsill.

Feeling inspired? Incorporate them into these last-minute crafts. After all, spiders are pretty crafty little critters themselves. Associate crafts editor Erin Furey shows us how easy it is to pull off a pair of bugged-out sunglasses as a last-minute costume.

 

We call these glasses by Erin Furey in our craft department "creepy-crawly chic." That should be a thing, right?

Do you decorate with spiders for Halloween? Check out more of our last-minute crafts and share your favorites with us!

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Photography by: Mike Krautter

Or glam up a pumpkin with this blinged-out bug.

Make the Glamorous Spider Pumpkin
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Photography by: Thibault Jeanson

Or hang this silky egg sac on your porch, practically teeming with little eight-legged spiders.

Make the Spider Egg Sac
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Or -- at your spook-tacular seasonal party -- serve hors d'oeuvres with these arachnid-topped toothpicks.

Make the Spider Toothpicks
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