Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween traditions in Scotland.

I'd written a blog about the Top 5 Worst Halloween candies, but then noticed this morning that several of my friends had already shared a Top TEN list (it's good -- read it here). So I'm deleting that post, and instead I shall write about how Scotland started Halloween.

Well, that's not entirely true, but since they pretty much invented everything else, I'm going to just go with that, okay? Most scholars agree that Halloween has its roots in Celtic harvest festivals. The word "Halloween" is itself derived from old Scots, so there you go.

When we were living in Scotland (through two Halloweens), we learned that trick-or-treating probably originated there (or Ireland or Wales, depending on whom you talk to). The practice of "guising," meant going door-to-door in disguise.

Rather than simply dressing up and demanding candy, however, in Scotland, there is a bit more expected of the children: You have to perform for your candy.

Last year, in our tiny, adorable flat, on our tiny, adorable cobblestone street, we had the cutest little trick-or-treaters knock on our door and TELL JOKES!

My favorite was a little girl, maybe 8 years old, out by her lonesome and dressed like a witch who deadpanned:

Why didn't the skeleton cross the road?   Because he didn't have the guts!
 immediately followed by
Why didn't the skeleton go to the dance?  Because he had no-body to go with!
She got a LOT of candy.

Really, though, I love the idea that you must earn your treats.
The wee boy last year ... and this year.

Another factoid you probably didn't know (unless you are one of my many Scottish readers, obviously), is that before there were pumpkins, there were turnips. Yes, little Scottish kids would hollow out a turnip and go guising in search or coins or treats which they would collect in their turnip. Somehow Americans must have gotten greedy and decided that a turnip wasn't big enough and went for pumpkins. And we wonder why we have a childhood obesity problem...

Then again, we used to use pillowcases when I was a kid, so who am I calling greedy?

Tonight, I hope you get lots of trick-or-treaters, and I hope they do a song or dance or tell you a great joke.

Scottish friends, what else am I missing?


1 comment:

  1. turnips[rutabaga] are much harder to carve & may involve losing a finger or two...