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« Pic For The Day - Why!?! | Main | Pic For The Day - Happy Samhain »

Samhain: It's Like Halloween With Turnips and Howling

Happy November 1, or Day After Halloween. Around our home --  no matter where in the world that might be -- it's known as Day of the Sugar Coma.

This year Ella dressed as a vampire. Owen had planned on blackening his eyes and scrawling a "P" on a white t-shirt. Get it? A Black-eyed Pea. Then he found out that in the UK blackeyed peas are called blackeyed BEANS. Bummer. He decided to wear his street clothes and say that he was an 11-year-old boy dressed as a 12-year-old boy. He fooled everybody!

For Halloween night we went to a Samhain festival at the Crannog Centre on Loch Tay. Their website told us to:

Bring a lantern; join our torch lit procession through loch-side woods. Watch our wicker ram burn in ceremonial sacrifice and enjoy storytelling, apple-ducking, hot soup and fire shows.

Brenna is always up for cultural immersion, and any tradition previously unknown to her makes her giddy. So, when Brenna announced that instead of carving pumpkins this year our family would be carving turnips, in the traditional Celtic way, I wasn't really surprised. I'd never heard of it before, but I've just learned not to question these things. When she said that we'd be carrying them to light our way down a dark and muddy loch-side path while howling loudly to chase demons and evil spirits from the countryside, I just assumed it's something that ALL Scots do.

Brenna Here: I just have to say that I thought carving turnips instead of pumpkins would be fun. We carve pumpkins every year! We're in Scotland! Let's do something different! I didn't realize how much harder turnips are. They're ROCKS! But Bob did most of the hard work - so I was fine. Honestly - I didn't know about all the howling until we got there.

We arrived at the center, and the other families walking past us were carrying flashlights and Coleman lanterns. I looked at Brenna and scowled. Of course she couldn't see me because she hadn't lit the tea light in her turnip yet. I might have lost her all together if it weren't for the acrid smell coming from her turnip lantern.

OK - they did really smell! Our car was noxious by the time we got there. But listen, It's not like I had this vision of legions of turnip-toting Scots walking the Loch. I knew people would probably be bringing lanterns. I also thought that 4 turnips cost less than a Coleman, and could be roasted for dinner afterward. And we wouldn't have to pack a lantern when we leave.

We stumbled to the entrance of the Crannog Centre and the woman greeted us with, "Ahh, you did it the hard way. It's been an age since I carved turnips, it hurts my hands too much."

No shit, one of my fingers was still bloody. From that point on in the evening we were referred to as the turnip family. Not the, "family with the little vampire girl," or even, "the Americans." We were the Turnip Family. We even won a toy in the "pumpkin" carving contest. "Where's that Turnip family? They get a special prize for extra effort."






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Reader Comments (10)

OMG (and I really do hate acronyms, BTW) - I laughed out loud at this post! The turnip smell is vivid and the imagery of you faithfully carrying your carvings to the center ... my stomach and face muscles are hurting.

Also love the "He Said ... She Said ..." storytelling - hope you'll continue to utilize it.

Seriously, Brenna: I totally admire your efforts to research the local lore. And I personally love eating turnips, so I think I would have blithely plunged into the turnip carving too, not realizing how tough it is.

Thanks for another great report!

Nov 1, 2009 at 7:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterIris

I had a good laugh

Nov 1, 2009 at 7:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterIrvin

Hooray for jumping in, both feet (and all Bob's fingers)! Long Live the Turnip Family!

So I just cranked out 11th hour costumes for the kids before taking them to a family Halloween party and discovering that I was one of about 3 adults NOT in costume! I felt so plebian. I've also noted a growing nod to zombies this year: wear whatever you like, just white-out your face and blacken your eye sockets and you're good to go (black nail polish is optional).

I asked Grandma Peggy what she wanted to dress up as next year; I think she thought I was joking...

Nov 1, 2009 at 9:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicole

This was a great laugh-out-loud Halloween experience. I;m so glad you are sharing all the fun your are having with us.

Nov 1, 2009 at 9:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterKaren B.

I can't believe you didn't bring a set of dremmel tools with you.

Nov 1, 2009 at 10:07 PM | Unregistered Commenternoho1960

This was a really funny post today. I love that you are known as the "turnip family". That is so priceless!!!!

Nov 1, 2009 at 10:28 PM | Unregistered Commenterpamela

Oh Bob, you know you live for missions like turnip carving (bloody fingers and all).

Nov 2, 2009 at 6:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterBRL

What a hoot! E, you look fab!
Auntie Steph

Nov 2, 2009 at 9:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

Brilliant costume Owen, both the one you wore and the one you didn't!

Nov 2, 2009 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterRupert

We have a big pumpkin carving party every year, being in Boston I missed it the 12th annual. For the 13th annual I would like to invite a special guest carver, Bob, to demonstrate the manly art of Turnip Carving. You will be back won't you? Bandages will be provided at no charge.

Nov 3, 2009 at 5:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterJim Wallis

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