Halloween in Scotland

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Welcome to the home of Halloween!

Foggy, eerie Halloween in Scotland. MacBackpackers

The Origins of Halloween

With things getting all spooky for Halloween - Celtic cultures in Scotland, Ireland, the Isle of Man and elsewhere are preparing to celebrate Samhuinn, marking the end of the harvest season. Traditionally the time of year when cattle were driven back down from their summer pastures, having been sent there during Beltane in May.

In the Celtic calendar, the traditional festival of Samhuinn is a time that marks the end of the summer and beginning of the winter. It was believed that at this time of the year the veil between the land of the living and the departed is thinnest. This means the Aos Sí, the 'spirits' or 'faeries', can more easily come into our world. Besides causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. To celebrate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. 

Misty Isle of Skye. MacBackpackers Halloween

Halloween Traditions

Many old traditions have remained in today's Halloween celebrations. Guising or ‘galoshin’ amongst children was common. According to folklore, this was so that they could venture out safely without being detected by wicked ghouls.

Traditionally, Scottish used to also carve neeps (turnips), in the same way as the pumpkins are carved today, and make lanterns. However, some things have changed. Did you know that The Witchcraft Act of 1735 forbid the consumption of pork pastries on Halloween? Eating them was only made legal again in the 1950's. Since then sausage rolls have been a popular Halloween treat. So, if you have a sausage roll tonight, you can feel privileged to be allowed to do so without risk of getting caught.🍖

Later, combined with the Christian All Saints Day, taking place on the November 1st, and All Souls Day, Samhuinn became All Hallow's Eve, Allhalloween, and thus Halloween.

Spooky Castle Ruins. MacBackpackers Halloween

Things to do in Scotland

With haunted castles, eerie woodland walks, hair-raising ghost tales and spooky activities - there are few countries more stuffed with haunted sites than Scotland.

If you are in Edinburgh, you can take part in the traditional Samhuinn Festival, which celebrates the old Celtic traditions. For the first time ever, Samhuinn Fire Festival marks the turn of the seasons at the top of Calton Hill. That means more space, more performers, more drummers, and, of course, more fire.

There are also plenty of ghost tours around Scotland. Visit Scotland recently introduced this great map as well that helps you to find the scariest, most haunted places around our wee country. 

Ghost Trail Scotland

Photo credit: Visit Scotland

Stay spooky and stay safe on this eeriest of evenings. Oidhche Shamhna shona dhuibh uile!👻☠️🎃

 

Our tours of Scotland take you to visit spooky places all year around. Read more about all our tours and join us to listen to horrible histories, mysterious stories and fascinating myths.

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