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12 of Scotland's unique Halloween traditions - and their origins

If you've been guising or carved a turnip lantern, then you'll have celebrated Halloween in Scotland - but what are the origins of these traditions?

Children and adults alike are looking forward to another night of fancy-dress at the end of the month, with many continuing customs that originated in Scotland in Medieval times. Traditionally held from sunset on 31 October, Samhain was believed to be a time where the boundaries between the real world and the other world of witches, fairies and ghouls were at their weakest. As undead souls were believed to roam freely on the 31st, Scots would leave an empty chair and food on the table to pacify any potential nocturnal visitors. From ancient folklore to more modern traditions, we take a look at celebrating Halloween in Scotland.

Halloween, or Samhain, was one of the two great fire festivals of the Celtic calendar and traditionally marked the beginning of the new year. Hallow fires would be kindled to mark the end of the harvest and the return of animals.

1. Hallow fires

Halloween, or Samhain, was one of the two great fire festivals of the Celtic calendar and traditionally marked the beginning of the new year. Hallow fires would be kindled to mark the end of the harvest and the return of animals.
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During Samhain, children across Scotland in the 18th and 19th centuries would go guising in old clothes or even disguised as evil spirits in an attempt to remain incognito should any evil ghouls happen upon them.

2. Guising

During Samhain, children across Scotland in the 18th and 19th centuries would go guising in old clothes or even disguised as evil spirits in an attempt to remain incognito should any evil ghouls happen upon them.
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Guising children would be offered treats such as nuts or apples after singing a song or reading a poem at their neighbours door. It was thought that this would help them repel any troublesome spirits. Now they usually get sweets.

3. Guising treats

Guising children would be offered treats such as nuts or apples after singing a song or reading a poem at their neighbours door. It was thought that this would help them repel any troublesome spirits. Now they usually get sweets.
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Cabbage stalks were often turned into a form of pipe on Halloween for bundering. Boys and young men would go door-to-door with the hollowed out pipes, which would be packed with kindling, and blow smoke into homes to purify them.

4. Bundering

Cabbage stalks were often turned into a form of pipe on Halloween for bundering. Boys and young men would go door-to-door with the hollowed out pipes, which would be packed with kindling, and blow smoke into homes to purify them.
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