Seeing as Samhainn is a pretty Big Deal round here it's one of the few festivals in the year where everyone gets excited and I can really make an effort to Do Stuff without appearing to be a complete loon. There's everyone putting up the terribly tasteful decorations and carving tumshies or pumpkins, there's the Hallowe'en parade at school and the guisers coming to our door...It's a great occasion and especially good for being able to get the kids involved.
Considering the fact that it's a pretty Big Deal it's going to require a bit of planning ahead. We got some really huge tumshies last year, which were perfect for carving, so hopefully we'll get some more this year. Seeing as they're quite tough to carve (instructions for carving here, if you're looking for tips) they're not really something I can do with the kids just yet so I've tried to carve a pumpkin over the last few years as well. Maybe it's just the crappy plastic tools we have for the job but they're quite tough too, but while the stench of tumshie is quite evocative, shall we say, the innards of a pumpkin reminds my son of brains, apparently:
We couldn't get one last year but I've promised Rosie a pumpkin soup at the least this year. Seeing as I've no idea how to do that I still need to figure that one out... The kids want to go guising this year, for the first time, so if it's cold (we've already been having frosty nights so there's a good chance) the soup will be good for warming them up when they get back. The kids can help me make it, and some Brodick bannocks to go with it too. And maybe some butter - they have great fun yelling out the rhymes to make the lumps come.
Seeing as the kids want to go guising, they'll need to prepare some jokes or songs if they want their sweets (or hot dogs - one of the houses handed out hot dogs last year, they were very popular!). Trick or treating isn't really a thing here; you only knock on doors that have lanterns put out to indicate that guisers are welcome, so sweets are pretty much guaranteed, and you have to perform a piece of entertainment or the people you're prevailing on can tell you where to go. As the song goes:
Tell a story,
Sing a song;
Dae a dance,
Or oot ye gang!
Although jokes and nursery rhymes are what you'll probably hear, there are plenty of traditional songs too. "Tell a Story" is one, but I think the best known one is Heigh Ho for Hallowe'en:
Heigh Ho for Hallowe'en!
When the witches a' are seen,
Some black and some green,
Heigh Ho for Hallowe'en!
There's another one I quite like:
Hallowe'en a nicht o' tine
A can'le in a custock.
A howkit neep wi' glowerin' een
To fleg baith witch and warlock.
(Or: Hallowe'en a night of fire/A candle and a cabbage stem./A tumshie lantern with scowling eye(s),/To scare both witch and warlock.)
But I suspect the kids might decide to sing "Twinkle Twinkle Chocolate Bar" because they like doing the actions. I think that's about all they'll need to know about guising for now - they can get up to the mischief part when they're older...
We made some decorations last year but seeing as it's the October holiday I think we might just make some more...I think it's going to be a long week ahead this week. We also have our seasonal mural to think about, and now we have a fish tank in the way of where the murals tend to go I think we'll be adapting it to make a background for the tank.
It wouldn't be a proper Samhain without some games for the kids, so a bit of planning is required for that, too. I'd like to try the divination game with the crowdie, where you whip up a big bowl of the cream, honey and oatmeal and mix some charms into it for everyone to try and dig out. Before now I've felt the kids have been a bit too young for it - small parts being included and all - but my youngest is five now and I think she's old enough to get the gist of things and not end up having to make a mad dash to hospital. I'll need to figure something out because I don't have any charms yet, but that shouldn't be too difficult. I might also have to adapt the game slightly because there are worse things in the world today than getting a charm that suggests you won't ever marry. Otherwise, we'll have the usual games - dookin' for apples, blind man's bluff, musical statues and musical bumps and so on. I also have what looks like a decent recipe for treacle scones I can use for that game, so hopefully I'll finally get around to trying that too.
So as usual there's a lot to fit in, including time to do my own thing, of course. Some of our plans will probably fall by the wayside, as it usually happens, but at least I'm in a more physically capable state to make a go of things this year. With the kids wanting to go guising the feasting part of the proceedings will probably take a backseat to the more important aim of the kids making themselves feel thoroughly sick, but I like to round off the celebrations with a nice meal the day after too, so that can still get done. Then of course there will be saining to be done and offerings to be made. And perhaps a story or two to be told, for the kids.