Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween guest post and contest with Marie Treanor

Thanks to Marie Treanor for treating us to such a fun and informative guest post. I had a lot of fun learning more about Halloween customs and I hope that you find it as cool as I did. It's always interesting to me that when we Americanize a holiday it seems to become more commercial and less about traditions. Sad really. I think I prefer the old ways more. 

Our traditions are pretty simple: We take the kids to Apple Annie's, this little orchard up in Willcox, to pick pumpkins and vegetables, walk through the creepy corn maze, and maybe go on a hayride. We stock up on local food stuffs like desert honey and apple butter too. Then we spend an afternoon turning our front yard into a cemetery and hang spiderwebs and lights on the porch. Costumes are usually pretty simple for monster #1: Jedi, Stormtrooper, or homemade Ghostbuster. Monster #2 changes about a million times every year but this year we have settled on Frankiestein, a Monster High character that she loves (She wanted to be Draculaura but mean 'ol mommy thought the outfit was too skimpy for a 9 year old). Over the years I have tried to teach them the more traditional aspects of the holiday, like celebrating the end of summer and honoring those that have left our world behind, but I imagine that those details won't be as important until they grow up a bit. We'll see. 


*One lucky reader will win a print copy of Blood Eternal (U.S. shipping only)
*Leave a comment about your favorite Halloween traditions
*Please include an email if one is not easily located in your profile
*Winner will be drawn on October 31st

Enjoy and good luck~


As Halloween approaches, all things scary, spooky and monstrous seem to be on everyone’s
minds. It’s no different in my house, where my eight year old daughter is desperately trying
to work out whether she should be a werewolf or a zombie for the occasion!

I know America has a particular fondness for this “holiday”, with long-standing “trick or
treat” traditions – which, incidentally, have been spreading around the UK in recent years.
Even in my home country, Scotland, where we have our own very distinctive traditions,
many of the kids I open the door to at Halloween, greet me now with, “Trick or treat!”
Although I’m a traditionalist at heart, I don’t mind that, because they’re not substituting one
tradition for another, they’re just adding to their own customs.

Anyway, I thought I’d tell you today about Scotland’s Halloween habits. As you’ve probably
guessed, the children dress up and go round their neighbours’ houses, much like American
children. Only, we call it “guising” – as in “disguising”, I suppose! – and the children are
all prepared with some sort of turn – a song, a dance, a scary little play, or just a Halloween
joke or two – which they do at your door or in your house, and then receive sweets, nuts,
fruit, cake or other goodies, and sometimes a bit of loose change. I believe it’s a hangover
from medieval times, when visiting mummers would dress up and entertain in the spirit of All
Hallows Eve.

We live in a village, so it’s usually great fun and quite safe for guisers. One of the kids in a
given group nearly always knows someone in each house, so they usually just keep going
from house to house until they get too cold and decide to come home and divide the spoils.
The “turns” they do can be amazing, everything from the tiny child clutching his mum’s hand
and telling a bad joke about a skeleton, to an elaborately choreographed dance routine from
well rehearsed eleven or twelve year olds.

We have Halloween party traditions too. Including “dooking” for apples: you can either kneel
on a chair, with a basin of water and apples on the floor beneath you, stick the handle of a
fork in your mouth and then drop it into the basin and hope to prong an apple; or you can
just stick your face right in the basin of water and grab an apple with your teeth . Neither’s as
easy as it looks!

And then there’s “biting the treacle scone” – which is extraordinarily messy. Some scones are
hung from a piece of string at around head-height, and covered in black treacle. The kids are
blind-folded and have to try and take a bite of a scone. You really need a hosepipe to clean up
after that one!

I’ll probably avoid the treacle scones, but we may dook for apples. My daughter will
certainly want to go guising, although my teenage sons are too old to go on their own behalf
now. And we’ll have some fruit and sweets ready to give to the guisers who’re bound to come to our door.

What will you do this Halloween? Will you dress up, party, take kids out on their scary
missions? What’s the custom where you are?

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Marie Treanor said...

Hello Anna and the Bite Club! Many thanks for having me here today!


SandyG265 said...

I don't have any kids and since Halloween is on a Monday I'll be at work most of the day. My boyfriend and I usually go to the library and get out a couple of horror movies to watch the week before Halloween.

sgiden at

Marie Treanor said...

Horror movies with your boyfriend sounds fun, Sandy - certainly beats laughing at the same skeleton joke all evening:).

Anna, I meant to say, I'd love to see your garden disguised as a cemetry, complete with creepy spiders' webs :). I don't go that far! But one of my neighbours decorates the whole inside of her house and it always looks amazing...


Anna (Bite Club) said...

Good morning everyone. I'm off to a late start, as usual, but it just seems like once the kids are off to school mommy just wants to nap. It must be the change of seasons.

Sandy, I love scaring myself watching scary movies! Any favorites? We just watched this special with Stephen King talking about horror movies and my 12 year old son wants to try his hand at some of the hokey classics, like The Birds and Psycho.

Marie, every year we decorate more and more. Both kids want to build a coffin so they can pop out and scare people. We live on a military base and many of the houses are decorated, some scary, some more fall festive. Even the offices do haunted houses and pass out candy. It's a fun time of year.

Lil said...

For me was all about the dressing up. Now that I am a grown up, I love to see all of the costumes that parade around the streets as kids trick or treat.

Marie Treanor said...

Sounds great fun, Anna!

Hi Lil. It's a really exciting time for the kids here too. I always get the impression that in America adults get more involved in the dressing up fun too - is that true, do you think?


Barbara E. said...

I loved hearing about the traditions for Halloween in Scotland. For me, my favorite thing is the adorable little kids trick or treating, especially the children for whom it's all new and they don't quite have it down yet. I usually decorate outside a bit to make sure the kids know to come to the door.
This year I'm excited because I'll be on vacation visiting my sister and I'll get to go out with her grandkids, that will be fun.

Barbed1951 at aol dot com

tetewa said...

I hand out candy every year and then order a pizza and watch scary movies!

ML said...

Halloween is my favorite holiday so I have some traditions. I have to have a party and make a spooky looking cake (from spiders, to coffins, to oozing eyeballs). I also like to name the party food (Bone-chillin' chili, boneless bat wings, etc.). Around Halloween I always like to watch Beatlejuice, Nightmare Before Christmas and Hocus Pocus (don't ask) to get in the festive mood. I also try to dress up every year (at the very least don some devil's horns). Then it's pretty routine-hand out candy to the neighborhood kids-maybe turn on the spooky CD and smoke machine. When that's done-sit back with some candy corn and another Halloween or spooky themed movie.

mljfoland AT hotmail DOT com

Alicia0605 said...

My family always throws a big halloween party every year on the weekend and then its taking the kids out trick or treating on the actual night!


Marie Treanor said...

Glad you liked it, Barbara. Yes, it's the kids that make it fun for me too - like Christmas :).

Hi Tetewa, sounds like a fine night!

Wow, ML, you really do have a party :). Sounds great fun!

Hi Alicia - lucky you! Two lots of fun :).

Hope everyone has a fab Halloween - fun and scary at the same time :). Thanks for chatting with me!


Carrie said...

I have 3 kids, one too old to go out, but about 3 years ago my two boys said after the third house that they were tired and wanted to go home. So ever since then we don't go out. We stay at home and watch The Littlest Vampire and the next day we buy them a bag of any candy they want. Saves a lot of money. I really enjoyed the post and info on Scottish traditions. Thanks