Friday, 31 October 2014

Memories of Halloween in Scotland

Halloween in Scotland in the 1950s and '60s

tumshie lantern
Tumshie Lantern - Scottish Turnip Lantern
We never really celebrated Halloween in Scotland - to many staunch Presbyterians it was a bit too pagan for their liking.

 But - we had a few traditions. My dad would make me a tumshie lantern - no pumpkins for us, we made do with a turnip. OK my attempt on the right is a bit pathetic and Dad would laugh. His were always a bit more elaborate and I'm pretty sure he had as much fun as we did with the finished product. Then Mum made mashed neeps from the insides to have with our mince and tatties. Recipe on the way. 

For some they would attach a string to the tumshie so they could carry it and go guising. I suppose that was short for disguising and a forerunner of today's elaborate Halloween costumes. 

Kids would go house to house complete in home-made outfits and with tumshie lanterns. They were expected to do a party trick - sing a song, tell a joke, do a little dance - and in exchange got a few pennies or a sweetie. I wasn't allowed - Mum thought it was undignified and Dad didn't take with the concept of begging when there were so many worse off than us. That didn't stop me sneaking out occasionally with friend Shelagh to go guising to her Gran's in the Glengate. Granny Bruce made fantastic gingerbread men and I was always looking for an excuse to sing. 

Brownies and Guide groups usually held parties at Halloween. Again we made our own costumes, I once spent hours stitching newpaper cuttings onto a dress so I could go as a paper lassie and Shelagh and I once won the fancy dress contest as Beauty and the Beast complete with cardboard snout. 

Games always seemed to involve getting in a bit of a mess. If you weren't bobbing for apples you well trying to eat treacle scones that were hung from a rail by string. With your hands behind your back it was harder than it seems and black treacle found it's way into all sorts of places. 

A simpler time? Probably. A better time? That remains to be seen. 

No comments:

Post a Comment