The Home of Halloween

The autumn leaves are beginning to fall and Halloween is fast approaching. In recent years more and more people have started to celebrate this holiday on the 31st October, but how many people actually know where it comes from?

lanterns at night

A Brief History of Halloween

Halloween comes from the Celtic festival of Samhain which was celebrated by the Gaels and Celts in British Isles. The origin of the name comes from the Scottish name for the festival: All Hallows Eve. The Halloween traditions like guising/trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins and dressing up all come from the traditions associated with Samhain and All Souls Day. And there are many different stories about Halloween.

Halloween Traditions in Scotland

The story I grew up with in Scotland was that Halloween was the time when Summer ceased and Winter began. For a brief moment there is a rift between the real world and the world of the dead; where all kinds of strange creatures have an opportunity to visit the earth, and witches can take to the skies. Every year Pumpkins are carved and lit up, to scare away evil spirits and we in turn, dress up in scary costumes, so that we are left alone by those who may wish to harm us – it’s very pagan!

There are lots of Halloween traditions. Families would gather together, safe inside, to tell each other ghost stories, eat their way through trays of treacle toffee and Parkin Cake, and one for older members of the family was Fochabers Gingerbread. Washed down with a mug of mulled cider, to keep out the chill and warm the heart.

There are traditional games still played today, such as Apple Dooking-  this is when your head is first soaked in a tub and then dipped in a mound of flour into which lots of sweeties have been buried – the point is to find the sweeties!  Or you might be encouraged eat treacle donuts on a string, which you can only get at by using your mouth – no hands allowed! This is one of the few times of the year when you are allowed to get really messy while eating your food!

Visiting Scotland for Halloween

If you feel too old for children’s parties then there are plenty of other  spooky things you can do at Halloween. Especially in Scotland! In the capital city of Edinburgh, you can explore the underground vaults of Mary Kings Close, visit the gruesome Edinburgh Dungeons, learn about the bloody battles at Edinburgh Castle (maybe you’ll spot the headless drummer boy) and have a Halloween feast at The Witchery. If you are feeling more adventurous you could also take a trip to Loch Ness to visit Nessie the legendary Loch Ness Monster. Halloween is the perfect time for a  break before the Christmas season arrives.

There are many beautiful hotels in Edinburgh where you can stay – some are even said to be haunted. Some hotels will also offer  “haunted weekend” deals with special excursions and Halloween themed meals.

You’re in for a treat if you visit Edinburgh for Halloween!