A scarecrow is an enduring image of western culture and plays a big role in the history of the modern world. The scarecrow, simply put, is a straw doll or mannequin that is designed to act as a decoy human. They are ordinarily the size and shape of humans, and dressed in human clothes, with the intention of scaring away crows and other animals that could prove a menace to crops. Scarecrows have been utilized by farmers for years to ensure that their crops and seeds are left undisturbed.
Because of their creepy concept and appearance, scarecrows have become a staple of horror and Halloween, with many urban legends attributed to the scarecrow. We are all familiar with what scarecrows are, and we might even have made one in the past. But, there are a lot of facts we bet you didn’t know about the scarecrow – read on to find out more!
They started out as real people
Don’t worry we’re not going to go into dark territory here. What we mean is that the modern concept of scarecrows first started with people. Young kids, normally boys of around 8-9 years of age would act as scarecrows of a sort. These kids would be employed by farmers to scare away the birds and crows threatening to congregate in the farmer’s field. This was the norm in Britain during medieval times, and one of the first incarnations of the idea that would turn into scarecrows.
There are many different cultures that have been using scarecrows for a variety of reasons over the years. Though the modern concept of scarecrows may have come from people, there were actually civilizations using them for years before. For instance, the Greeks carved wooden scarecrows to resemble Priapus, ugly son of Aphrodite – noting that, when they left the scarecrows in the vineyard, the birds would be scared away. The Romans took a leaf from the Greek custom, and they wound up introducing scarecrows throughout Europe.
Believe it or not, there are some people out there who actually love scarecrows so much they organize and attend scarecrow festivals! In the UK there are plenty of festivals, especially in the picturesque Yorkshire Dales. People display hundreds of life-sized scarecrows from all across the country – that sounds suitably creepy, count us out! It’s not just those wacky Brits who dig scarecrows though, the city of St. Charles, Illinois has been hosting a scarecrow festival annually for the last 23 years!
The scarecrow has become a staple of popular culture, and they became hugely popular in the United States during the Great Depression in the 1930s. Though their popularity has waned since they are still recognizable throughout Western cultures. For example, one of the most famous and recognizable scarecrows ever is The Scarecrow of Oz from the famed book (and movie) The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. There have also been other famous scarecrows in pop culture, such as a villain and nemesis of Batman’s in the DC Universe.
Scarecrows are a staple of modern culture, and, though they aren’t used as much these days, they still play an important role. Their impact as an aid for farmers, as well as a symbol of terror for many people, has ensured that we continue to tell stories about scarecrows. We bet you didn’t know that there was such a backstory to the ordinary, everyday scarecrow!