Witching hour

In European folklore, the witching hour is the time when supernatural creatures such as witches, demons and ghosts are thought to be at their most powerful, and black magic at its most effective. This hour is typically midnight, and the term may now be used to refer to midnight, or any late hour, even without having the associated superstitious beliefs. The term "witching hour" can also refer to the period from midnight to 3am.


One of the earliest known uses of the exact phrasing "the witching hour" is from the 1831 edition of Frankenstein in the introduction by Mary Shelley: "Night waned upon this talk, and even the witching hour had gone by before we retired to rest."

In 1835, the phrase appeared in the last line of a short story by Washington Irving: "Two pairs of eyes are watching me now, from the couch and the ledge by the window. Faerieland shines in those eyes. And I must leave you, for it's the witching hour and a full moon is rising. . . ."

However, variants of the phrase were in use much earlier; Shakespeare refers to "the witching time of night" in a soliloquy in "Hamlet":

:Tis now the very witching time of night,:When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out:Contagion to this world: now could I drink hot blood,:And do such bitter business as the day:Would quake to look on.: [Act III, sc. ii]

Witching hour in popular culture

The Witching Hour is a song by the progressive metal band Symphony X from their album The Divine Wings of Tragedy

"Witching Hour" is an album released in 2005 by Ladytron.

"Witching Hour" is a song from the 1981 Welcome to Hell album recorded by Venom, later covered by black metal band Mayhem on Deathcrush.

Radiohead's 2003 album, "Hail to the Thief", contains a reference to the "Witching Hour" in the eerie song titled The Gloaming.

"The witching hour" is a lyric in the Foo Fighters song "Another Round" on the second, acoustic disc of their 2005 album "In Your Honor".

"...in the witching hour" is a lyric in the Def Leppard song "Animal" on the Hysteria album.

"The Witching Hour" is a DC comic book horror anthology that ran from 1969 to 1978 with the tagline "It's 12 o'clock... The Witching Hour!" (changed to "It's midnight... The Witching Hour!" after about a year). It was hosted by three witches based on "Macbeth"'s Weird Sisters: Morded, Mildred, and Cynthia. After its cancellation, it was merged with "The Unexpected" until that series folded. These witches were later revived, along with the hosts of companion series "House of Secrets" and "House of Mystery", as important characters in Neil Gaiman's "The Sandman".

"The Witching Hour" is a graphic novel by writer Jeph Loeb and artist Chris Bachalo. The story was published by Vertigo in 3 parts in 1999 and later released as a trade paperback in 2000. The story, a horror fantasy, follows 5 witches as they grant people wishes and exact justice upon them.

"The Witching Hour" is also the first book of Anne Rice's "Mayfair Witches" trilogy.

In John Carpenter's 1980 film The Fog, Adrienne Barbeau's character Stevie Wayne mentioned during her night shift broadcast several times that it was "the witching hour."

In the 2005 film "The Exorcism of Emily Rose", the witching hour is referred to as occurring at 3 A.M., as opposed to midnight. In the film it is said that this is the hour each night when demons mock the Holy Trinity, and also that it is the opposite of three o'clock in the afternoon, the hour when Jesus Christ is traditionally believed to have died during the crucifixion.

The Witching Hour was a Harry Potter-themed symposium held in Salem, Massachusetts from October 6, 2005 to October 10, 2005.

In Roald Dahl's novel The BFG, the opening chapter in the book takes place during the Witching Hour. "This is when the little girl, Sophie, spots the BFG."

Witching hour for days over 24 hours long

Kim Stanley Robinson's influential "Mars Trilogy" novels include a Martian timekeeping system whereby clocks on Mars work at a similar rate as those on Earth, but freeze at midnight for 39.5 minutes to account for the longer Martian day. This "timeslip" has been described as a witching hour.

Vernor Vinge's Hugo-nominated "Marooned in Realtime" takes place far enough in Earth's future that the slowing of the Earth's rotation has added roughly an hour to the length of the day. The characters describe the extra time each day as "the witching hour."

ee also

*Triple witching hour
*Small hours

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