I like Hallowe’en, but won’t be at home tonight to dress up in my witch costume, put a pumpkin lantern in the window, prop my broomstick by the door, play a CD of creepy music and murderous screams which can be heard when I open the door and hand out treats to the callers. That’s not how I remember Hallowe’en when I was a child, though.
When I was a child, growing up in Scotland, Hallowe’en meant going guising. Guising was dressing up, making a turnip* lantern, and learning a song, a poem or a few jokes. We would go to the houses of friends or neighbours – only people we knew, never those we didn’t. We would knock on the door, be invited into the house, perform our ‘party piece’ and then be rewarded with nuts, fruit, very occasionally a few sweets or if all those had run out we got a few coins (often the most prized of Hallowe’en rewards!). After an hour or so of that it was back home to look at our ‘spoils’ and eat a few of them. Sometimes there were Hallowe’en parties too where we ‘dooked’ for apples (same as ‘bobbing’ for apples), tried, with our hands behind our backs, to eat doughnuts, or soda scones, which were suspended on long strings and dipped in black treacle – fun but messy – and played other party games. There would be small prizes for the best/most imaginative costumes, and I don’t remember people dressing up as witches, or ghosts or other gruesome things. Sometimes weeks of planning and effort would go in to the costumes often involving imaginative use of cardboard boxes.
Ah, the good old days!
I don’t remember there being any themed Hallowe’en paper cups/plates/napkins or bunting and balloons as you can get now, but I do remember the baker’s shop selling Hallowe’en cakes. I spotted these in the supermarket yesterday. I’ve no idea if they are just for sale in Scotland. I can report that they are quite tasty!
* a turnip in Scotland is what is usually knows as a swede in England – there were many years of confusion when I first moved there but I’ve got used to it now!
Here’s my ‘party piece’ for this year – some very corny Hallowe’en jokes:
What do you call a fat Jack-o-Lantern?
Why do witches fly on broomsticks?
Because vacuum cleaners are too heavy.
What do you get if you divide the circumference of a Jack-o-Lantern by its diameter?
Why don’t mummies take vacations?
They are afraid they will relax and unwind.
What happens when a ghost gets lost in fog?
He is mist.
Do zombies eat popcorn with their fingers?
No, they eat their fingers separately.