There’s always a lot of controversy around Halloween… How should it really be celebrated, how annoying is it that American traditions are taking over the Celtic traditions, should Jack O'Lantern pumpkin really be banned and why on earth are big greedy companies still trying to introduce this long standing tradition in countries where it doesn’t mean anything?
All I know is that the Halloween we celebrate these days has its origins in the ancient Gaelic festival known as Samhain. The Festival of Samhain was a celebration of the end of the harvest season, and is sometimes (wrongly) regarded as the Celtic New Year. Irish and Scottish immigrants then introduced their own versions of the tradition in North America. So I guess that's ok to celebrate Halloween on both sides of the pond but each country should stick to its own particular traditions... If you want to know everything about Halloween, Wikipedia will tell you everything there is to know here.
In Scotland, one of the biggest Halloween traditions involve children going door to door guising – children dress up, often in spooky or scary outfits and they have to offer some kind of entertainment in return for a gift or treat – singing, telling a poem or a joke … They’re not supposed to trick you as in the American “trick or treat” but I guess it depends where you live and how many neds come knocking at your door!
The American carved pumpkin is often replaced by turnips. Not a big surprise. From experience I can tell you that turnips are A LOT easier to grow in Scotland than pumpkins! In my student days in England I did actually carve a turnip once instead of a pumpkin because the shop was out of the orange stuff but I had no idea at the time I was actually following a Scottish tradition!
And one of the biggest Halloween parties game is Dooking fur aiples (bobbing for apples in Queen English) where you have to bite apples floating in a bucket of water - pretty messy! Le Petit Chimiste was having a dookin’ competition at work today so we generously donated 20 of our apples – only a fraction of the harvest but every little helps as I’m totally getting sick of the sight of them!
I don’t know if children in my neighbourhood are guising, trick or treating or else – we were away last year for Halloween. Just in case, I have carved a pumpkin, put it on the windowsill and stocked up on sweets and chocolates … If we don’t get any visitors, I’m sure the next door children will help us going through them all! And I hope we won’t get any such visitors* :
* pinched from the Glasgow Survival website