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."