Why is Scotland so rich in folk tales and legends?
From lowland to highland, Scotland has a rich seam of tales of all manner of ghost and other mythic creatures, brought to the country by the Scots and Vikings. There was deep-rooted belief in witches and other fiendish beings. The also had some great story tellers like Burns and Sir Walter Scott that popularised the tales. It is even from Scotland that the tradition of Halloween arose. Halloween or All Hallows’ Eve (31st October) was a time dedicated to remembering the dead and, in early Celtic societies, when spirits or fairies and the dead could more easily come into our world. It was also the time when witches were particularly active. Scots who emigrated to America took their Halloween customs and traditions with them. Whereas in Scotland they would carve turnip lanterns, once in America they carved pumpkins. Scots’ children went guising (dressing up and knocking on doors) and celebrated Mischief Night by playing pranks. In America this became ‘trick or treat’. In the early 20th century, many American Halloween cards still showed Scottish images and Robert Burns himself wrote a poem called ‘Hallowe’en’ (first published in 1786) that describes the Halloween and fortune telling customs of his native Ayrshire.