In the 18 years we’ve lived in Aberdeen, I’ve watched the Americanised version of the holiday take hold. Hallowe’en has been celebrated in Scotland for centuries; here in the North-East, the tradition was for children (or more likely their parents?) to carve lanterns out of turnips. The children went “guising” – short for disguising – with their lanterns. I hear that on the Isle of Islay, as Hallowe’en falls on the Sabbath this year, the guisers will be out tonight rather than tomorrow. Our friends there tell us it’s a big night, involving everyone on the island.
Here in Aberdeen, the American custom of Trick-or-Treating has begun to take hold. Large pumpkins are now for sale in the supermarkets, and many people carve jack-o-lanterns (we used to be the only ones I could see!). People have begun to decorate their houses, and with movies and the internet – not to mention Wal-Mart here now – the decorations are beginning to look very much like ones I remember from the States. But of course instead of decorating wooden houses with front porches, the Halloween decorations are gracing granite houses. Here are a few examples:
This one is interesting because it also has a Thanksgiving detail, with the dried corn. (I wonder if the Brits will ever adopt Thanksgiving? – I know, cheeky question!)
There are some houses in Aberdeen that are spooky all year round. The Dafter calls them “ghost houses” and won’t walk past them if she can avoid it. Over the years we’ve watched some of them be fixed up, which is nice to see. But here is one that is still very definitely a ghost house:
Happy day-before-Halloween! Tomorrow, I will have a somewhat more erudite post about the Celtic traditions behind the holiday.