5 Animal Superstitions in British Folklore That Still Haunt Us

5 Animal Superstitions in British Folklore That Still Haunt Us

If you enjoy reading ancient horror stories and tales, chances are that you’ve encountered plenty of superstitions along the way. Regardless of the culture, folktales are full of eerie beliefs about animals that have haunted people’s minds for centuries. British folklore, in particular, is famous for its superstitions about animals. While most of these animals are pets or harmless creatures most of us are familiar with, British folklore loaded these animals with odd and sometimes even scary associations. 

In this article, we’ll discuss 5 superstitions related to animals that are common in British folklore.

1. Black Cats

Black Cats

Everyone knows that black cats are associated with misfortune and bad luck. But British folklore took these superstitions to a whole new level and added some variation. Believe it or not, in British culture, people believe that black cats bring good, instead of bad luck. On the other hand, white cats are symbols of good luck. Therefore, if a black cat enters a Britishman’s house, they consider this a lucky sign from the divine and welcome it warmly.

Not surprisingly, traditional British people attach so much meaning to this superstition that they even rely on it in their everyday activities and decisions. For example, when it comes to online gaming, some people might choose to place bets on sites that offer UK casino £10 deposit bonuses if they see a black cat in their commercials. As a result, reputable British online platforms often use this strategy to attract users and promise them good fortune.

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2. Magpies


Birds, in general, are the most common species of animals that are associated with superstitions. Among them, magpies stand out in British folklore. However, this bird doesn’t particularly represent either bad luck or good luck. In fact, the symbolism of this bird varies depending on the situation.

Generally speaking, the magpie is often regarded as a bird of bad luck. British people used to believe that if they saw a single magpie, they would experience misfortune. In order to avoid this, the solution was to make the sign of the cross. However, in some parts of the country, people still believe that seeing not one, but two magpies together is a sign of good luck. And when this happens, people greet the birds by bowing their heads.

3. Robins


Apart from magpies, the robin is another bird commonly linked with specific associations in British folktales. Unlike magpies, there’s no controversy about robins and they are considered symbols of good luck altogether. Even more — robins are even considered the most beloved birds by British people. 

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This time, the positive reputation is linked to the Christian tradition, specifically, a story where robin flew over the dying Jesus on the cross and sang to him to provide comfort during his tough time. During this moment, he was stained by the holy blood and that’s how robin got its red breast. Today, British people happily welcome robins into their gardens, while breaking a robin’s egg is believed to result in something terrible. 

4. Owls


When someone mentions an owl, the first association that comes to mind is wisdom. That’s because this bird is widely considered a symbol of vigilance. But this symbolism comes from Ancient Greece and it turns out that in the United Kingdom, owls have a slightly different meaning.

In Celtic folktales, an owl is a dark creature, associated with shadows and the Otherworld. Therefore, when the Celts accidentally notice an owl, they think of it as a warning sign from the spirit world that might mean an upcoming death or a significant change. Interestingly, for Welsh people, seeing an owl has a different meaning and it indicates that a girl is about to lose her virginity.

5. Dogs


Finally, there are not many superstitions about dogs because of their friendly nature. But British people still have a few eerie beliefs about them. For instance, if they see a dog howling at midnight, they immediately think that it’s a sign of death. 

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Another interesting superstition related to dogs in British culture is about a dog running between a bride and groom on their wedding day. If this happens, they think that misfortune is unavoidable in this newly formed family. This particular superstition can be explained by ancient beliefs about the importance of protecting a new marriage from any kind of disruption.

Bottom Line

To sum up, British folklore is full of both positive and negative superstitions about animals that represent either bad or good luck, depending on the specific situation. The scariest thing here is that they believe eerie things can happen, even with the lovely animals we encounter in our everyday lives. That’s why you should be careful and think of the tales behind those animals the next time you randomly encounter them. Who knows what they tell you about your upcoming life?

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