Hallowe’en has been a top tradition since long before the history books began recording, but through the years many cultures have begun taking their place in Scotland’s celebrations
Guising. Neep lanterns. October 31st. Surely there is nothing else to know?
Ding! Incorrect. Good old-fashioned Scottish guising is being steadily Americanised into a “trick or treat” format where, rather than doing a wee turn – a song, a dance, a joke – to earn a reward, many youngsters merely rock up at your door, demand a sweetie then saunter off again.
Turnips have been almost ousted by pumpkins. There is some logic to this one: pumpkins are easier to carve – thanks to their soft, fleshy innards – without necessitating the blood, sweat and tears involved in making a turnip lantern.
Hollowing out a turnip (a neep or a tumshie), as those of us of a certain vintage can attest, is nigh on impossible without mangling multiple spoons and repeatedly stabbing yourself in the hand with a blunt butter knife.
Following many hours of laborious chiselling and graft, the contents of your mother’s good cutlery drawer have invariably ended up looking like spoon-bending Uri Geller has been on the rampage. But, finally, voila, your neep lantern is complete.
Surely the date of Hallowe’en can’t move?
You would think so, but not everyone celebrates on the 31st. The Ayrshire town of Kilmarnock has long had a tradition of marking Hallowe’en on the last Friday of October.
There are a few theories posited about the reason behind what has been dubbed “Killieween”, with the most plausible being it might originate from when many employers paid their staff on the last Friday of each month.
Whatever happened to tradition?
Like many things, Hallowe’en has gradually evolved. After all, when did you last do some nut-burning of kail-pulling at Hallowe’en?
There is a reference to both in the 1785 Robert Burns poem, Hallowe’en, which talks of the merry friendly country folk that convened “to burn their nits, an’ pou their stocks”.
Next you’re going to tell me pumpkins aren’t orange?
Will, that is something of a misnomer. They also come in shades of green, yellow, red, white and blue.
Recent years have seen people display teal-coloured painted pumpkins to help raise awareness of food allergies and let guisers know they can expect a healthy alternative to so many sweets, such as toys, games and trinkets.
When can we eat then?
Best avoid sausage rolls. A clause of the Witchcraft Act of 1735 is said to have forbidden the consumption of pork or pastries on Hallowe’en. The Act was reportedly repealed in the early 1950s… but do you want to risk it?
Order your October ‘Scottish Hallowe’en’
WeeBox now – on sale until September 30th!