Friday, 31 October 2008

Archive: Samhainn 2008 (1)

Happy Hallowe'en, Oíche Shamhna, Oidhche Shamhna...whatever you want to call it!

I started my celebrations yesterday evening by carving the tumshies (turnips, swedes, rutabagas...whatever you want to call them...). Wielding my trusty vegetable knife and sturdy spoon once again, I cut, gouged, scraped and occasionally swore my way through three tumshies, which are currently proudly situated in the window of my front room. I have the blisters to prove it, I swear (but it was fun to do).

It's the first time I've ever put them in the window, which round here means that guisers are welcome to come and visit, and it's been an eye opening experience. Growing up I never celebrated Hallowe'en (my mother saw it as nothing more than rampant and tasteless commercialism imported from America, nothing to do with us thankyouverymuch, and as far as I remember it was never a big thing anyway) so I've never been trick or treating, and I have only a vague recollection of going to a Hallowe'en party at a youth club once, during the time mum made my sister and I go there. When I moved back to my hometown after university, trick or treating was more like sanctioned mugging than something festive, so we never took part then - we would've got egged anyway. While I was at university in Glasgow we'd get the wee neds coming round to trick or treat or ask for a penny for the guy at this time of year (for Bonfire Night), and they were more than happy to toddle off with your spare change, seeing as we never had any treats of the sweetie kind then. Seeing as we didn't live in a very family oriented area then, the kids that knocked on our door never really bothered with the costume part of the proceedings and were generally more concerned with making enough money to go out a procure themselves a bottle of Bucky than anything else, but here in Wemyss Windy Bay, Hallowe'en conforms to pretty much to Mr Seren's experience of it from when he was growing up about 20 miles away.

A lot of kids these days will only visit houses they know, especially if they're allowed out on their own, but we've had a fair few visitors in spite of that (and most groups are accompanied by at least one adult, but we don't live in anything like a dangerous neighbourhood anyway). Instead of demanding a treat in order to avoid the trick, round these parts the kids are expected to do something to earn their treat, so we've had jokes, songs, riddles and poems given to us in exchange for a choice of Haribo sweets, chocolate, monkey nuts (peanuts) and apples. Or more usually, as much goodies as their hands can hold...Tom in particular found it all very exciting, and when a group of girls began singing Baa Baa Black Sheep he ran to get his guitar so he could join in, which resulted in the girls being reduced to fits of giggles and 'Awwwwws!!!!'

Mr Seren insisted on the monkey nuts and apples because that's what he used to get for his troubles as a child, so it's traditional. Oh yes. And seeing as he had such an opinion on things, he answered the door most times so I dug out the orc mask to get into the spirit of things. Here it's ably modelled by Tom, who declined to dress up in his Spiderman costume but seemed quite keen on the mask (whereas Rosie spent the day in her ladybird fairy outfit):

Tom was quite keen on the carved tumshies, mainly because Mr Seren told him it would scare the dinosaurs away.

Surprisingly, quite a few of the guisers (and quite often their parents or designated responsible adult) chose the nuts or fruit, although one lassie said she was allergic to nuts, something we didn't think about. It was a good job we had chocolate or Haribo on offer in addition to the fruits and nuts, because two girls who knocked on the door wanted the sweeties but said they weren't allowed gelatine because of their religion and so declined to enter the happy world of Haribo (I'm assuming they were Muslim), and we hadn't considered that either.

That's it for now - I'm waiting to make sure I've got some peace and quiet before I get down to some serious business so I'll post about that later.