Halloween greetings from the past featured common Halloween symbols: the witch, black cat, jack-o’-lantern, ghost, devil — and one that has been forgotten.
There's something charming and yet disturbing about vintage Halloween cards. They're loaded with the symbols that are still associated with All Hallow’s E’en: witches, black cats, devils, jack-o’-lanterns and ghosts.
But one once-common symbol seems to have fallen by the wayside: the owl. Maybe the creepier, blood-sucking bat won out.
Owls were associated with Halloween back when the Celts would build bonfires at Samhain, their autumn festival. The light attracted insects, which in turn drew bats and owls to feast upon them.
From the time Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, had an owl as her symbol, the birds have been thought of as wise (though I've read that they're not too intelligent actually).
At Halloween, when the veil between our world and the spirit realm is at its thinnest, we have the power to learn hidden knowledge. And witches took owls as well as cats as their familiars. So perhaps it makes sense that owls were once popular icons of the holiday.
You'll see some owls, along with the other, more lasting, symbols of Halloween in the selection of vintage cards below. –Wally