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October 31, 2019

According to recent research by insights firm CGA, Britain's pubs and bars can expect spirit sales to rise by almost 60% this Halloween with shots, bombs and cocktails the most popular orders.

And there is no shortage of places putting on spooky spectaculars to celebrate Halloween over the next few evenings. We listed a number on the blog yesterday.

Arguably, over the last few years, the way we mark Halloween in the UK owes more to American customs than our own traditions.

In fact, there is a strong argument that Scotland invented Halloween. With help from the VisitScotland and National Trust for Scotland websites, we have dug up some seasonal factoids from beyond the grave.

Halloween has its roots in the Gaelic festival of Samhain, A.K.A. Samhuinn.

Samhain was a pagan festival which marked the end of the harvest season and the changing of the seasons.

Halloween takes its name from All Hallows Eve, the night before the Christian festival of All Hallows or All Saints Day. 

On this day, the dead were thought to return to earth to walk among the living.

Which could make a visit to Glasgow Necropolis, as seen above, pretty eventful. Pic comes from GlasgowLife.

Baneful midnight errands

In 1786, Robert Burns published his poem Halloween. It is all about the night when 'witches, devils, and other mischief-making beings are all abroad on their baneful midnight errands’.

Pumpkin carving is an American import. Scottish kids used to carve turnips to make their lanterns.

Back in the day, people would light fires and carry carved lanterns with grimacing faces to scare away evil spirits. And by 'evil spirits', we don't mean cheap tequila.

Recently engaged couples used to try and predict how their marriage would work out by chucking a nut in a fire. If it burned quietly then they were in for a smooth union. If the nut crackled and made a hissing noise then things might get rocky.

We'll end with a very suitable nugget for a food blog: eating pork pastries on Halloween was forbidden under the Witchcraft Act of 1735. Apparently, pork was connected to witchcraft with pork bones used for sorcery. It wasn't repealed until the 1950s!