Unique Scottish Halloween Traditions
Are you excited for all the Halloween fun to come? We’re getting ready to make our Mummy and Monster Cups, picking out our costumes and having a blast learning about Scottish Halloween traditions, many of which originated from the much older holiday of Samhain.
Samhain is a festival of the dead when it’s believed the dead would rise and roam the earth as spirits. While most people in Scotland now celebrate the more modern holiday of Halloween, many of the traditions from Samhain remain.
Bonfires, Neep Lanterns, and Nut Burning
The best thing to keep spirits and demons away is fire, of course! So it’s not uncommon to see bonfires throughout the evening, and some scary looking lanterns to spook the spirits. Traditionally, turnips were used in Scotland instead of pumpkins, so they’ve come to be known as Neep Lanterns.
Have you ever wondered if your significant other is really the one? Halloween might be the perfect time to find out. Throw a nut into the bonfire and pay attention to how it cracks. If the nut burns quietly, rest easy knowing you’ll have a long and happy life together. But if the nut cracks, pops and hisses, it may be time to move on.
Looking for a fun new game to play at your Halloween party this year? Treacle Scones is a no-hands game, much like Bobbing for Apples. Fresh baked scones are hung above your head and covered with treacle, a molasses like sweet syrup used in the United Kingdom. Try to use to your teeth to pull down the baked goods and then enjoy a sweet treat!
In 1735, the Witchcraft Act banned the eating of pork or pork treats on Halloween, for reasons that still remain somewhat of a mystery. When the ban was officially lifted in the 1950s, sausage rolls and other pork pastries became a popular snack for the holiday.
Guising or ‘galoshin’
We have “Trick or Treating”, but in Scotland a similar tradition is called Guising (disGUISING) or Galoshin. Traditionally, children dressed up in old clothes to help them blend in with the spirits out at night and went door to door performing songs or tricks in return for gifts that were supposed to ward off demons and ghouls. While the name remains, many children in Scotland now pick out costumes of their favorite book and movie characters, much like children in the United States.