Upon that night, when fairies light
On Cassilis Downans dance,
Or owre the lays, in splendid blaze,
On sprightly coursers prance;
Or for Colean the route is ta’en,
Beneath the moon’s pale beams;
There, up the cove, to stray and rove,
Among the rocks and streams
To sport that night.
Among the bonny winding banks,
Where Doon rins, wimplin’ clear,
Where Bruce ance ruled the martial ranks,
And shook his Carrick spear,
Some merry, friendly, country-folks,
Together did convene,
To burn their nits, and pou their stocks,
And haud their Halloween
Fu’ blithe that night.
Rabbie Burns 1759-1796
I have always loved October, Autumn is in full swing and it's the most magical time of the year. It's Halloween season! Growing up in the rural highlands is a special place to celebrate Halloween. Years spent having big bonfires in our garden, dressing up and learning a party piece for visiting door to door.
Halloween can be traced back to the celtic festival of Samhain, which marked the end of the harvest and to prepare for the winter ahead. There are many traditions we used throughout my childhood which upon reading recently, I see these traditions have been around for hundreds of years.
Lighting a big bonfire is not only for Guy Fawkes Night, I remember doing this on Halloween but not understanding why. This custom was to ward off any any evil, and these large bonfires would be lit in villages to scare off the ghosts of the dead. Fire was seen as protection and even smaller fires were made. 'Neeps' or turnips as many other people refer to them, were carved out as faces and a candle placed inside to be used as lanterns..which still is done to this day but using pumpkins.
A big part of halloween for me as a child was 'Guising' which meant you dressed up and went from house to house with a big bag hoping for treats. The origin of Guising was from a time when people thought disguising a child would mean that they could blend in with the spirits and not be noticed. Guisers needed to perform a party piece, so whether it was a joke, a poem or a gaelic song it was custom to entertain if you wanted sweets in return. I am beginning to see in recent years that some children use the "trick or treat" which is a shame as I believe the tradition of having a party piece is much more special.
The air is cooler now, leaves are falling all around. Shades of orange, red and yellow flood the countryside and it's such a sight to behold. I find this time of year truly inspiring, especially in the highlands. The feeling of winter approaching bringing the end of another year. Try not to feel sad to say goodbye to the bright mornings and sun, but to welcome a new season....
Wrap up it's cold out there!