Some very Scottish Halloween traditions!

Halloween is of course the spookiest time of the year! Falling on the 31st October every year, Halloween is celebrated throughout many different countries of the world. From dressing up in spooky costumes, to party games, every country brings something different to Halloween and today we’re looking at Scotland – of course! So how do Scots traditionally celebrate Halloween, well our team have created a list of some Scottish Halloween traditions to get you in the spooky spirit!

Pumpkin carved for Halloween with brown leaves and other pumpkins in foreground
Halloween scene with pumpkin and ghosts


Children today are very familiar with the term ‘trick-or-treating’ – an American tradition where ‘treats’ are given out for those who have simply dressed in costume for the occasion. However, in Scotland it is traditional for children to dress as scary spirits and go ‘guising’ around the local streets. The belief is that by disguising themselves they would blend in with the wandering spirits and this would keep them from harm – hence the name ‘guising’. It was also expected of children to perform a trick, sing a song or tell a joke before the ‘guisers’ were given ‘gifts’ to help ward off the evil spirits. This tradition is still practiced in Scotland today, so look out for some guisers on Halloween night!

Lots of green apples

Dookin’ for Apples

A brilliant party game to play at any Halloween party is Dookin’ for Apples. Originating from Celtic traditions the rules of the games are simple – only using your mouth, you must retrieve bobbing apples from a basin of water, the person who gets the largest number of apples out of the basin the fastest, wins! Sounds simple, but believe us it’s not as easy as it sounds!

Pumpkins carved for Halloween within the Whisky Collection with bottles of whisky at The Scotch Whisky Experience, Edinburgh

Neep Lanterns

We’ve all heard of carving a pumpkin to make a Jack-O-Lantern for Halloween, but have you heard of neep (turnip) lanterns? In Scotland it is tradition to carve your scary faces into the popular root vegetable! Neeps to this day are still carved (with difficulty, and normally end up in a few broken kitchen utensils) to create lanterns that would scare off any ghosts or ghouls! Why not give neep lanterns a go this year? Then you can use the insides to make a lovely Scotch broth, it’s a win-win!

Halloween Ghost Pinata

Treacle Scones

This is another great game to play at a Halloween party – and again involves no hands! The idea is to take bites out of treacle-covered scones that are dangling above you on pieces of string, the first to eat all of their sticky scone is the winner! These days this game is commonly played with ring doughnuts, purely because they are easier to tie up with string, and they make a lot less mess!

Why not try some of these Scottish traditions yourself this Halloween! Whether you’re dookin’ for apples at a Halloween party or hitting the streets to try some guising these spooky ideas are perfect to get you in the Halloween spirit!

Slàinte Mhath!