Heritage and Culture

A Scottish Halloween

A Scottish Halloween
By Sophie


The Scottish tradition of Guising saw children go from door to door in fancy dress. Usually dressed as ghosts or other ghouls, they would sing songs or do tricks, and receive treats in exchange. Jokes and poems were also used. By being in disguise, it was believed that the children would blend in with the roaming spirits, keeping them from harm.

Revisiting Old Haunts

Plates of food and an empty chair would be set out, in many homes, as a way of welcoming spirits who may be passing through.

Protective Fires

It was believed that evil spirits hated light so bonfires and lanterns would be lit to ward them off. This began an association of bonfires with Halloween, which has stuck throughout history.

Who Will I Marry?

This quirky Scottish game was used to determine the first letter of the person who the thrower would marry. The game involved peeling an apple in a continuous strip, then tossing it over the shoulder. The shape the apple peel made, when landing on the floor, would reveal a shape or letter. This letter was believed to be the first letter of the thrower's future spouse.

Hallows Eve

The name Halloween comes from the Scottish term Hallows Eve. This was the day before the Christian feast of All Saints Day. In Scotland, Halloween overlaid the much older celebration of Samhain, the Celtic New Year, when the spirits of the dead were believed to roam the earth.

Treacle Treats

A popular Halloween party game involves trying to eat scones spread with treacle, which are suspended on a string. Children's hands would be tied behind their backs and they would be blindfolded. Sticky faces all round would be guaranteed.

A Nutty Marriage

At Halloween, engaged couples would each throw a nut on the fire. If they burnt out quietly it was believed that the future of the marriage would be happy. If the nuts spat and hissed then it was believed that the marriage had stormy times ahead.

Dookin for Apples

A popular game where children's hands would be tied behind their backs and they would try and bite apples that were floating in a basin full of water.

Why not try some of these fun Scottish Halloween games and traditions for yourself? From all of us here at Scotweb, Happy Halloween, and a happy Samhain!

Did you know?

Eating pork or pastries on Halloween was illegal, thanks to the Witchraft Act of 1735, this was only repealed 60 years ago!