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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.

For single women to find out about potential love interests, Halloween was the night to do it. Traditionally they would burn a hazelnut - to represent a suitor - if it burned to ashes rather than popping, then a wedding may be on the horizon.

5. Nut burning

For single women to find out about potential love interests, Halloween was the night to do it. Traditionally they would burn a hazelnut - to represent a suitor - if it burned to ashes rather than popping, then a wedding may be on the horizon.
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The Celtic water spirit Shoney was gifted a pot of ale on Halloween to bestow blessings on the local fisherman. Reports suggest that people on the Isle of Lewis would gather on the beach to witness this tradition.

6. Pouring ale into the sea

The Celtic water spirit Shoney was gifted a pot of ale on Halloween to bestow blessings on the local fisherman. Reports suggest that people on the Isle of Lewis would gather on the beach to witness this tradition.
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The Scottish custom of Dookin fur apples references the fruit that the Druids held sacred. Children who take part have their hands tied behind their backs and have to retrieve apples from a basin of water using their mouths.

7. Dooking for apples

The Scottish custom of Dookin fur apples references the fruit that the Druids held sacred. Children who take part have their hands tied behind their backs and have to retrieve apples from a basin of water using their mouths.
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With witches feared to be at full power at Halloween, there was only one place for them - the fire. Boys are said to have gone door-to-door asking for a peat to burn the witch.

8. Burning witches

With witches feared to be at full power at Halloween, there was only one place for them - the fire. Boys are said to have gone door-to-door asking for a peat to burn the witch.
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