Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Of tumchies and treacle............tales of Hallowe'en past

It ain't what it used to be, as the saying goes..............
Growing up in rural Scotland at the tale end of the 60s and into the 70s, life was very different to what it is now, and what itw as then in a lot of other palces. At the risk of overdoing the cliche, we made our own entertainment, especially at Hallowe'en. Rumours around teh playground for about 3 weeks before the great event - 'What are you going as?' needed not further explanation or expansion, we all knew it was talking about our Hallowe'en costumes. Mind you,costumes might be stretching it a bit - we just dressed up iwhatever was there, what we could find, we didn't necessarily have to go 'as' anything - certainly nothing was bought costume wise, occasionally a mask maybe, but that was it. Witches made their own hats and broomsticks, tramps their own road pack on the end of a stick taken from the hedge or garden, faither's auld jacket and a pair of tackety boots if you could find them. Faces wered one with make up, or, if appropriate, the blackened end of a cork - took days to remove it all lol. We went out in groups usually, each carrying a carrier bag to get filled with goodies. It wasn't 'trick or treating' we did - oh no, we literally had to sing for our supper. Known as guising in Scotland, we knocekd on folks' dorrs, and when opened, had to entertain the resident in some short way,  either on the doorstep or in the sitting room or kitchen if invited in. We would sing a wee song,maybe just a verse or two, a wee poem, silly joke, but we had to do something to earn the goodies. And what goodies they were - the real thing back then! Mrs Jardine opposite made the best treacle toffee in the world, others made that great Scottish delicacy tablet; there were wee oranges, and monkey nuts in their shells, sometimes more exotic nuts like Brazil nuts or almonds, small chocolate bars, and very occasionally a coin of small denomination for your efforts. True treasures indeed, we loved it all, and our gleanings lasted us for quite a while after the event was over. We'd never seen a pumpkin back then, apart from maybe in a Cinderella book - our lanterns were made from turnips, hollowed out (insides eaten ofcourse) and a small candle end melted and popped in - no such thing as a 'tea light' back then. It was scary, traipsing upand down what were familiar and friendly streets (all two long and two very short ones lol) in the pitch black but suchgreat fun, and we were allowed to tay out unti 8 or 9 o'clock until we'd done our rounds; then headed home to tuck in to our hard won  sweeties and fruit and nuts. wonderful. Most folk in the village were more than accommodating as they all knew us and we knew them. we knew the ones that didn't partake, and every year the old story about Mrs Corson was trotted out; I've no idea what year it was, but before we moved to the village. A couple o flads had gone to her door on Hallowe'en, to be infomred in her own little way that she didn't take part at all, and shut the door on them. the lads took up her doormat, scaled the roof and put it over her chimney for her trouble..............................  a village legend that one!
Have a happy Hallowe'en however you mark it or not :)


The Barefoot Crofter said...

Enjoyed that post - much like my own memories. Here though, until fairly recently (30 yrs ago maybe) only the girls went out guising at Halloween and the boys went out at the auld New Year (12th Jan)

Ali said...

Yep pretty much like my childhood Halloweens too. Not the easiest of vegetables to hollow out into a lantern!! In Kilmarnock it's still traditional to go out guising on the Friday before Halloween. Nobody ever went guising on the day itself