Halloween (31 October) is still widely celebrated in Scotland but many
traditional rhymes have disappeared only to be recorded in books such as F
Marion McNeill's splendid work 'Halloween - Its origin rites and
ceremonies in the Scottish tradition' published in 1970. She gives
examples of traditional rhymes used in the past :-
' As soon as it is dark, small, fantastically clad figures wearing
grotesque masks, emerge from their homes, carrying turnip lanterns or kail-runt
torches; and, forming into little groups or processions, they pass through
the village street singing one of their traditional rhymes:-
Halloween! A nicht o' tine!
A can'le in a custock!
Heigh Ho for Halloween,
When the fairies a' are seen,
Some black and some green,
Heigh Ho for Halloween!
The more mischievous spirits would sing, beating on the shutter with a
kail-runt and then running off:-
The nicht is Halloween and the morn's Hallowday,
Gin ye want a true love, it's time ye were away!
Tally on the window-brod,
Tally on the green,
Tally on the window-brod,
The nicht's Halloween! '
Last year we looked at the part played by apples in Halloween celebrations
but nuts were very important too as F Marion McNeill recalls :-
' Nut-gathering, too, has always been a popular ploy. The present writer
recollects visiting, many years ago, a hazel grove beside a wishing-well
in the Isle of Skye, where the children used to gather nuts just before
Halloween. An old Highland lady recollects the annual nut-gathering in
which she used to take part during her childhood. The children would set
out with baskets, bags and even aprons sewn at the sides to make capacious
pockets. They would walk a mile uphill to the nut-wood - the topmost
growth of the natural woods that clothed the precipitous sides of the
great ravine at the entrance to Glenstockdale.'
And the writer points out the importance attached to the hazel-nut by our
distant fore-bears :-
' To the elder Celts, the hazel - " the magic tree that wizards loves" -
was the source and symbol of wisdom, whilst the apple was the talisman
that admitted a favoured mortal to the Otherworld and gave him the power
to foretell the future.'
Hopefully this week's recipe for Hazel-Nut Biscuits will give you an
abundance of wisdom!
Ingredients : 8 oz (225 g) sifted plain flour; 8 oz (225 g) ground hazel
nuts; 12 oz (350 g) castor sugar; 3 oz ( 75 g) butter; 1 egg; 1 egg yolk;
1 teaspoon water.
Melt the butter and let it cool. Crack the nuts, remove the outer shell
but do not skin. Cut in half and force through a nut mill. Add to the egg
and sugar and mix well. Stir in the flour and finally the cooled butter.
Roll or pat the dough into a sheet 3/4 inch thick. With a round or oval
cutter, cut into biscuits. Make a tiny slit on the top of each, and paint
the surface with a mixture of egg-yolk and water. Bake from 12 to 15
minutes at 300 deg F, 150 deg C; or gas mark 2. There should be from 18 to
24 biscuits. Enjoy this Halloween treat.