Scottish Hallowe’en

artwork by phil burns

Click here to hear the words read aloud:


aw Scotland’s scary myths and legends
fae Tam o Shanter tae Sawney Bean
creep and slither yince mair fae the shadows
each year the nicht o Hallowe’en


nae bairn can contain their excitement
as the end of October draws near
each wee brain fair itches
as they think about witches
it’s the scariest night of the year

aye Hallowe’en’s a nicht o fear-filled frolics
as long as you ca canny
ye micht see a de’il
or a bogle for real
if you keek in each impenetrably dark nook and cranny

some traditions have lasted forever and ever
some changes we find quite surprising
in the US it’s neat
to say trick or treat
but in Scotland for the past 500 years we call it guising

there’s ay laughter and games for the wee yins
with treacle scones hung on a loosely-strung string
just mind your thrapple
when dookin for apples
in case a wild wean wi a sharp-pronged fork takes a swing

everyone carves out a lacklustre lantern
we use turnips but some folk use pumpkins
we may be old fashioned
but please show compassion
and don’t confuse us with near-extinct country bumpkins

though it’s now all modern and commercialised
we aw continue to do things we’re no supposed tae
it’s still the nerve-numbing night
that causes face-freezing fright
when we walk wi all sorts of gruesome ghouls and ghastly ghosties

Hallowe’en is the annual haunt of the bogeyman
he frightens the bravest bairns out of their hat-disguised heads
he has never been seen
but does that really just mean
he is hiding patiently under your bed?

*Glossary of Terms:

aye – yes
ca’ canny – take care
bogle – a bad thing, a spectre, a goblin
keek – look
ay – always
thrapple – throat, windpipe
dookin’ – ducking, trying to capture from a large basin or bath
wean, bairn – child
tae – to
bogeyman – boogeyman (USA), very bad, (hopefully) imaginary, person

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6 Responses to Scottish Hallowe’en

  1. This is great, I even understood it without the glossary which is going for a Sassenach!


  2. jenne49 says:

    Hang on, I’m just away upstairs to check under my bed! 😉
    Love the language and the reading – and the fun you had recording it!
    It took me right back to childhood joys.
    Love it.


  3. trishsplace says:

    Great to see you write in your native lingo!


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