HALLOWE'EN AND HOGMANAY
As I watched the children's faces shining in the bonfire's blaze on 5th November, I thought back
on my own childhood in Scotland. But at this time of year (31st October actually), we used to
celebrate, not Gunpowder Plot, but Hallowe'en, or the eve All Hallow.
Naturally we looked forward to the occasion and prepared well in advance. We made false faces
and fancy dresses, and lanterns from hollowed-out turnips. We brushed up our "party pieces"
Which we would sing or recite to our friends and parents to earn the traditional apple or penny.
But the climax was our Hallowe'en party, and what a time we had. Our large kitchen was cleared,
a big tin bath was produced and filled with water, and lots of red, juicy apples were dropped in.
They were given a good "swirl" and then the age-old "dookin for apples" began. We each tried
in turn to fork an apple or to lift one out of the bath by biting it and holding it between our teeth.
Then we jumped to bite the "treacle scone" suspended almost out of reach, or dug our spoons into the tub of mashed potatoes,
hoping that we should be lucky enough to find a silver coin. The party ended, as always, with our turning off the lights,
lighting our home-made lanterns and drawing up our chairs to listen to eerie ghost stories in the flickering firelight — always a
little bit afraid of the shadows outside our half-circle.
After Hallowe'en we began to think of Christmas, and, as I became older, of New Year's Eve, or Hogmany as we call it. I have
always regretted that few people seem to keep Hogmany in the south, and as December draws on I always long to be back with
my "ain folk".
And what preparations we make — a roaring fire, a drink for everyone, cakes, shortbread, sandwiches, fruit and nuts. As the
evening of 31st December wears on we excitedly await the return of all the family, and each member makes a point of being
home before midnight. Then as the clock strikes twelve, as the bells ring out, and as the hooters from the ships are sounding, we
open the windows to allow the spirit of the Old Year to escape and to receive the spirit of the New, and with a handshake for
everyone, we wish each other a "Guid New Year" and toast our absent friends.
After that we wait for our "First foot", hoping that he will be dark-headed and that he will not forget the traditional lump of coal
which will bring good luck to the house. Then there is dancing and singing and not until the "wee sma' hours" do we retire to bed,
very tired but very happy — Hogmany is over for another year.
MARY HASWELL (Staffs wife)
Goldonian Winter 1956