Halloween Tradition
Halloween Tradition
By: jbhthescots@mac.com, Categories: Words & Images, 1 comment



Apart from inventing the modern world as we know it, did you realize you also have the Scots to thank for Halloween as well? 


Halloween is a Scottish contraction of All Hallows’ Eve (All Saints Day) that first entered common parlance in Scotland in 1745.  At this time of year, when the days were at their shortest, it was thought that the ethereal boundaries which prevented faeries, witches, bad spirits, and the tortured souls of the undead from roaming freely in the real world were breached.  


Although he was not the first to describe the festival in print, Scotland’s national bard, Robert Burns, is credited with popularizing the concept of Halloween and the supernatural themes surrounding it. His poem ‘Halloween’, one of Burns’ longest, was published in 1786 and explores many of the festival’s eeriest stories and traditions. One of the lines, “what fearfu’ pranks ensue!”, makes mention of practical jokes at Halloween. 


And that brings us to the other Scots’ ‘invention’ associated with Halloween: the globally-recognised custom of trick-or-treating. Until recent times, this was known exclusively in Scotland as ‘guising’, gaining popularity from the late 18th century onwards. Children would disguise themselves as ghosts and evil spirits in a bid to blend in with the free-roaming undead. Simple treats, such as fruit and nuts, would be offered in return for a song or performance at a person’s door. 


And an early version of carved pumpkins first appeared in Scotland and Ireland during the 19th century. They were known as “tattie bogles” or “potato ghosts”, ghoul-like faces carved from potatoes and turnips – not a million miles away from modern-day carved pumpkins we see today – to ward off evil spirits.


But all of these Celtic traditions – widely believed to have originated in the USA via the large contingent of Irish and Scottish settlers – were soon to be, just like Christmas, commercialized out of all proportions Across the Pond by our American cousins.


Leica M3 & 1.4/50mm Summilux pre-asph v2

Sekonic L-308S

Ilford HP5+ (@250)

HC-110 (Dil.H – 1:63 @ 8:30 minutes)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan



1 Comment

  • You've just revived an old memory - turnip lamps at Hallowe'en with little candles inside. I'd forgotten all about that.