Scottish Halloween Traditions

Scotland is a land full of mystery and legends and our love for Halloween and its traditions are deep rooted in our culture.  Robert Burns even wrote about the celebrations surrounding the festival back in 1785 with his poem ‘Halloween’.

The origins of Halloween can be traced back to the ancient Celtic Festival of Samhain.  The Celtic year was dictated by the growing seasons.  Samhain marked the ending of the harvest season and the start of the harsher darker days approaching winter.  The festival illustrated the boundary between the world of the living and the dead.  The Celts believed that on the night of the 31st of October, spirits would walk alongside the living.  Here, traditions began to emerge of lighting bonfires and the adoption of costumes to disguise yourself from any spirits that may have roamed the streets.

Today, Halloween is still widely celebrated and argued to be the biggest celebration after Christmas.  Here are a few well-loved past and present Scottish Halloween Traditions.


You might be familiar with carving pumpkins, but have you ever carved a neep? Just like a pumpkin, it was traditional to scoop out the insides of your neep (turnip), carve a face and place outside your house to help ward off evil spirits!  Why not give the traditional neep carving a go this year?


Although this might sound like a traditional Christmas activity, at Halloween it was usual for newly engaged couples to each roast a nut on the fire.  It was believed that if the nut burned quietly that this would signify a joyful, peaceful marriage.  If the nut seethed and hissed it signified a possible torrid union.


Still practised today, guising is the Scottish name for ‘trick or treat’.  Children were dressed up in an attempt to blend in with the sprits that roamed the night.  Once arriving at a home, children were rewarded with an offering to help fend off any spirits that may be lurking around.

Just like guising, ‘Dookin for apples’ is a well-loved Halloween game.  This game involves retrieving an apple from a basin of water, using only your teeth.  Apples are used as they were regarded as a sacred fruit  by the Ancient Celts.

Did you know that the Witchcraft Act of 1735 banned the consumption of pork pastries on Halloween?  Thankfully this was withdrawn in the 1950s!

However, with usual celebrations on hold this year due to the pandemic, we chose to celebrate by releasing our very own Misty Isle Spookily Spiced Spirit.  As only a limited number of bottles were released, the opening of this tipple might not become a deep-rooted tradition. However you celebrate this year, after a night full of frights, be sure to enjoy a glass of our Spookily Spiced delight!