Saturday, 31 October 2009

Hey how for Hallow e'en...............

Hey how for Hallow e'en
A' the witches tae be seen
Some in black and some in green
Hey how for Hallow e'en.

Traditional rhyme



Another event in the turning of the year, whatever name it goes by in your house, however you choose to mark it or not, it's still around! My children are older now, so we don't mark it as we used to, and have never gone in for it in a big way. I carve a pumpkin, and we usually have something different/special to eat, but that's as far as it goes. I'm not very sure of the traditions associated with Hallowe'en in England, but when I grew up in south west Scotland, it was always a highlight of a child's year, but very different to the more commercialised event it seems to have become today.
In Scotland, the children went out guising - from the word disguise; they would dress up in all sorts of weird and wonderful clothing, often fronm their parents, blackent heir faces with burned cork or soot and set off around their neighbours. There was no "trick or treat", but at every house we were expected to really earn the goodies that they had laid in for their strange little visitors. The word would go around the village a couple of weeks before the day - "What are you doing for Hallowe'en?" - meaning what poem, rhyme, riddle, recital, song etc would you be performing for your gifts. There was less interest in the costume part of it, and as long as you were disguised to a greater or lesser degree, that was fine. Certainly no bought costumes or masks, no themes or film star costumes back then! All "hame made", costing nothing usually, and often with the ability to be returned to everyday use after the great event, barring a bit of burned cork or a coal dust dressing on your father's shirt! lol
Pumpkins were unheard of then, where we were; we made a tumchie lamp - a hollowed-out turnip (swede) with a candle inside, and a bit of string to swing it by. By the end of the next week, it stank of rotten burnt neeps!lol
Even if you were rubbish at your chosen act, friends and neighbours always gave generously, and it was proper Hallowe'en fare -seasonal, homemade, given with love and affection for effort on the child's part. I remember monkey nuts, treacle toffee, tablet, small oranges, the occasional copper or sixpenny piece; home at what seemed a hugely late hour with a bulgin bag of goodies which lasted a whole week for play pieces and midnight snacks. The older folks in the village loved it, and were always glad to see us; tehy loved the songs especially, and the old poems etc, often in Scottish dialect or similar, old rhymes and suchlike. Most people gave generously, but those who didn't want to partake were left alone, and we respected their decision. In a community like we lived in, we all knew what was going on, so there was no need to intrude on folks who didnt' want it. Easy. :)
Everyone rails against comemrcialism these days - yes, Hallowe'en, with the import of a more American way of marking the event, has become commercialised, but only because folks have been buying into it. If people didn't buy all the masks, costumes, rubbishy themed sweeties and things, then there would be no market for it, and things would/should revert ot homemade fun and a bit of imagination (when better than Hallowe'en to use your imagination?) By buying the stuff, they are feeding into the very industries they are criticising for making things like Hallowe'en too commercial - but they still buy all the stuff for their children. Just say no! Make something, involve the children in making something, give seasonal fruit, nuts, homemade biscuits and toffee. |Why feel pressurised and obliged?
Hallowe'en should be a bit of fun for children, but along with learning about how the traditions came about and the history behind it all; now sadly swallowed up by the reatilers' imposed American-style fever of the time of year, perpetuated by the ongoing buying into it.
Do your own thing at Hallowe'en!

2 comments:

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Ruth@VS said...

That's really interesting - that you did things for halloween in Scotland. In Lancashire there was no tradition at all, so the importation of the American tradition has been resisted. There have been trick or treaters in my village in recent years, but not this year, or maybe they just avoid me because I'm a horrible person!