Historic tricks of Halloween
By Jamie Brown
BORN and raised in the USA I, like most of you, thought Halloween celebrated tonight was an American tradition stirred to popularity by candy factories and greeting card companies.
Not that those thoughts ever worried me. As a child, Halloween was a wonderful event. The frosty streets in my Midwest neighbourhood swarmed with excited classmates, hidden behind masks and costumes. Our breath condensed into clouds, our eyes shone with excitement. We were dressed to kill and anxious to bring home a heavy haul of sugared sweets.
Late in the evening the older kids came out, to throw rolls of toilet paper high in the bare trees, rub soap and eggs on window panes, and smash carefully carved pumpkins.
No one got in trouble on Halloween. It wasn't until I visited the remote western isles of Scotland in my early 20s that I realised Halloween had a much older tradition.
There, amongst a bare and bold landscape, young children dressed in sheets as pagan deities and on the eve of a long and dark winter walked from one croft house to another. Halloween on North Uist was a social visit, with a wee nip of Scotch for adults, and pillow sacks full of cakes and fruit for the kids.
Now we find that here in Australia the celebration of Halloween is growing in popularity, especially among young families.
And why not provided Australians remember their Scottish and Irish ancestors celebrated this ghoulish occasion for thousands of years before us Yanks got hold of it.