Once again we near Halloween (31 October0 and bairns will be getting ready
to prepare neep lanterns and decide their guising attire for the big
night. One aspect of the centuries old Halloween custom which appears to
have disappeared completely is bonfires.
In her splendid book 'Halloween - its origin rites and ceremonies in the
Scottish tradition', published in 1970, F Marian McNeill writes of
bonfires and Halloween -
'The Halloween bonfires have burned down the centuries in an unbroken
chain to our present time. In the eighten-sixties an Edinburgh sheriff,
travelling from Dunkeld to Aberfeldy, counted thirty bonfires blazing on
the hill-tops, each with a ring of people dancing round it. In Buchan,
from sixty to eighty used to be visable from one point. In the twentieth
century we still find them burning in the remoter districts.'
She continues "Some years before the War (1914-1918)" writes a
correspondent in a Scottish newspaper, "on a crisp autumn night in a
faraway part of the Highlands, an old dominie revealed to me that
Scotland's history was older than the date-columns in our school-books.
Sitting outside the schoolhouse we were looking over the valley to where
the dark mountains were silhouetted against the rising moon. For miles and
miles the landscape was dotted with bonfires that blazed against the dark
hillside. The date was October 31, and these bonfires were the direct
descendants of the fires lit each year by the ancient Druids."
In recent times the use of bonfires has been relegated to an English
celebration - 5 November - perhaps it is time that they were reclaimed for
a truly historic Scottish celebration at Halloween.
Apples and Halloween gang thegither and this week's recipe Apples With
Dunfillan Crust, served with cream or custard sauce, gives us a splendid
baked pudding for Halloween.
Apples With Dunfillan Crust
Ingredients : 2 lb (900 gr) cooking apples; brown or caster sugar to
taste; 3 oz (75 gr) butter; 4 oz (100 gr) flour; 1 egg spoon baking
powder; 1 egg; 2 oz (50 gr) caster sugar; 4 tablespoons milk
Peel, core, slice and stew apples with only enough water to prevent
burning and brown or caster sugar to taste. Place in a pie dish. Rub
butter into flour. Stir in baking powder. Beat egg. Add sugar and milk.
Stir till blended, then stir into the flour. Pour over the top of the
apples. Bake in a moderate oven, 350 deg F; 180 deg C; Gas Mark 4, for
about 30 minutes. Serve with cream or custard sauce. Serves 4.