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Hello to all of you awesome and wonderful readers.
Are you ready? Are you Readddy!
It is coming ... Halloween is fast approaching.
Whilst I am pontificating about what to write as an article I decided to enlighten you with a few of our daft Halloween traditions that we have in Scotland.
Hallowe’en, All-Hallows’ Eve, All Saints’ Eve, Allhalloween
Whatever you want to or do call it, Halloween has roots in the Gaelic festival of Samhain, first mentioned in the 16th century. The word Halloween itself is Scottish, and comes from the Scottish shortening of All-Hallows Eve to Halloween.
Robert Burns the famous Scots poet, whose ‘Halloween’ poem was published in 1786, said that Halloween was the time of year that was ‘thought to be a night when witches, devils, and other mischief-making beings are all abroad on their baneful midnight errands’.
While today we all think of images of pumpkins, the Halloween carving traditions in Scotland were not pumpkins but something else. Can you guess what I used to carve as my lantern as a kid?
Here is a quick wee list of typically Scottish traditions at Halloween.
So without further ado, I shall start off with one for you young lovers!
If we take a wander back in time then you will discover that kale stalks were used to predict your romantic future! What do you think of that ladies?
In Robert Burns's poem ‘Halloween’, people would pull stalks of kale from the ground after dark and with their eyes closed. The length and shape of the stalk were said to represent your future lover’s height and figure, and the amount of soil around the roots represented their wealth.
What sort of kale stalk would you like to pull I wonder?
So now you have your special person, onto the next tradition.
Do you want to find out if you and your significant other will live happily ever after? A Halloween tradition that was once common among recently engaged couples was for each of the two people to put a nut in a fire.
If the nuts burned quietly, then they would live happily ever after.
However, if the nuts hissed and crackled, then a turbulent future lay ahead.
You chose your partner and had your bairns
Scottish children traditionally dressed up in costumes and pretended to be naughty spirits and they went ‘guising’ around the local streets. It was believed that, by disguising themselves in costumes, they would blend in with any wandering spirits and remain safe from harm.
After performing some tricks and/or songs, guisers were then given gifts from people to help ward off evil. Not like today’s trick-or-treaters, who now get ‘treats’ simply showing up in a costume and knocking at a front door.
In times gone bye, communities would light huge bonfires to keep all the evil spirits away from them. In true Scottish tradition, scary faces were carved into neeps (turnips) to create lanterns that would scare off ghouls wandering in the witching house.
Yes the answer to my earlier question, I carved a turnip lantern.
Thanks to America’s influence, pumpkins are now as if not more common as turnips for lanterns in Scotland – and a hell of alot easier to carve!
After the bairns have been guising time for all the family to have some fun
Apple Dookin' or Apple bobbing in England is the bobbing for apples game and is also known as snap apple in Ireland.
It is an ancient Celtic tradition and a fun game to play.
We used to get our hands tied behind our backs and wear a blindfold. Then an adult would lean you over a big barrel of water that was filled with apples.
The first one to get an apple out of the barrel won. You could either try and bite it and lift it out or put a fork in your mouth and try to stab it and lift it out. No matter what way you chose a wet face and hair was the result!
Then finish off with some sticky sweet fun
Treacle Scones or Apples
This was my favourite.
Sticky treacle-covered apples and scones would be hung from the ceiling at the end of string.
Again hands tied behind your back and blindfold you would have to get a scone or apple. What a mess as they would hit your face and hair and cover you in treacle.
This is the first of a couple of Halloween articles I will publish this week.
I hope you enjoyed a wee bit of Scots History and now know where Halloween came from!
Copyright @TengoLoTodo 2021 and yes All Rights Reserved. All images, words, and ramblings are from the author unless otherwise stated.