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13 November 2014

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You are in: Glasgow and West Scotland > Things to do > Halloween

Moonlit night

Moonlit night


As the time for ghosts and ghouls approaches find out more about Halloween traditions and events happening in your area.


Halloween is now celebrated beyond Britain and Ireland but it dates back more than two thousand years to the Celtic Samhain festival. November 1 was the first day of the Celtic New Year. The transition between the old and new year was when the Celts believed the souls of the dead and evil spirits could visit the living world.

The Catholic church moved All Saints Day from May to November, perhaps in an effort to contain the Pagan festival of Samhain which became known as Halloween - the eve before All Hallows or All Saints Day.


The Scottish tradition of 'guising' can be traced back to Samhain where people would use masks and decorations to disguise themselves and scare away evil spirits.

Pumpkin lantern

Pumpkin lantern

Halloween gifts given to guisers also have their origins in Samhain as sacrifices were made in order to placate evil spirits. The tradition also encompasses the tradition of 'Mummers' who would dress up and perform plays in return for food and gifts.

Candles and lanterns were used to keep the dead away from the living at Samhain and this tradition was carried on with the use of turnip lanterns in Scotland for Halloween. Pumpkins are now more commonly used as the commercial aspects of Halloween are imported from the US.

Halloween rituals in Scotland include:

Witch and cat lantern

Witch and cat lantern

'Dooking' for apples. This may have evolved from the Roman celebration of honouring the goddess of fruit 'Pomona' represented by an apple. It may also have its origins in witches being 'ducked'.Eating treacle-covered scones hanging from a string is another part of a traditional Scottish Halloween.

Other traditions involving apples include peeling an apple in a long peel then throwing the peel over your shoulder - the letter the peel forms would be the initial of a future spouse. It was thought that a future spouse may also appear by slicing an apple in half and eating it in front of a mirror by candlelight.

A marriage partner's shape could also be guessed at by going into a field of kail and pulling a stalk of kail from the field. It was thought that the shape of the kail would match the shape of a future spouse.

Halloween events in your area

There are many events taking place across Glasgow and West Scotland. Here are a few of the Halloween highlights:

Full moon

Full moon

Glasgow Science Centre is having a family friendly Halloween party on 30 October. The party includes fancy dress competitions, workshops, karaoke and scary science.

Join in the Halloween party at the farm at The National Museum of Rural Life near East Kilbride on the evening of 31 October for  ghost stories, apple dooking, games and crafts.

Join the undead in Glasgow's West End and take part in a zombie walk on 31 October.

Ghostly landscape

Ghostly landscape

Magic and Monsters are on the menu at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on 31 October. Owen and Olly are joined by CBBC's Raven for this childrens' classic concert.

Take a haunted guided tour of Inveraray Castle on 31 October. Goody bags are up for grabs for children in fancy dress and a prize will be awarded to the best guiser.

Join the witches in the wood at Glenbranter Forest on 30 October. Get spooked at the Walking Theatre company's woodland play.

Take part in the Halloween Horror walk at Brodick Castle on 31 October. Gain half-price admission to the grounds by donning fancy dress.

last updated: 26/10/2009 at 09:41
created: 16/10/2008

You are in: Glasgow and West Scotland > Things to do > Halloween

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