Aberdeen Press and Journal
31 October 1925
Fun and customs of Hallowe'en
It is interesting to note that in all the festivals of Scotland, fire plays a most important part. At Yule time, the Yule log is burned; at midsummer, the Beltane bonfire is lighted; and at Hallowe'en the Fire of Peace, or 'Samhain' fire, is kindled. Why did Hallowe'en require a fire of peace? The name gives an interesting sidelight on old primitive beliefs. Our fore-folks believed that at Hallowe'en witches, ghosts and fairies were given liberty to mingle with human beings and to work mischief. In order to keep away these uncanny visitors it was necessary to light fires, for the old folks believed that fire will always scare away the supernatural. Thus it came to pass that the Fire of Peace was kindled.
Next to fire, water ranked as a magic element in Hallowe'en ceremonials. South-running water was suppose to be the most effective. At Hallowe'en time, the maiden who would see the face of her future spouse must go to the south running water; she must dip into it the sleeve of her nightdress and then hang the wet garment before the fire. If she could keep awake long enough the apparition of her future husband would appear turning the wet sleeve.
Ducking for apples continues to be a popular Hallowe'en sport. Burns, however, when he records the various Hallowe'en rites, does not mention ducking for apples, though he speaks of: 'The auld guid-wife's weel hordit nits.' He gives a spirited description of the burning of the nuts, and he also mentions the curious and almost unknown custom of 'pulling the kail castoc.' Lads and lasses joined hands and blind-folded went into the kail yard and each pulled a castoc. If it were sweet so was to be the temper of the future life partner. If earth clung to it, the couple were to be well off. The runts were then placed over the door and the name of whoever entered first was supposed to have the same initial as that of the future husband or wife.
31 October 1938
Campbeltown 'ghost' captured
An elaborately constructed dummy figure, over six feet in height, the body padded, the arms outstretched, the head bearing a wig made of white sheep's wool, and the whole covered with a white shroud, is being retained in Campbeltown Police Station in the hope that it may afford a clue to the practical jokers who for the second year in succession, have been terrorising women and children in Campbeltown with a ghostly masquerade. The dummy was seen propped up against the local war memorial on Kinloch Esplanade by a man who grappled with it in the belief that it was a practical joker. The man had hurled the figure over the embankment into the loch before he discovered his mistake.
Last winter, the frequency with which the 'ghost' reappeared and the terror which was spread in the outlying district led to the formation of vigilantes who patrolled the streets armed with cudgels. The vigilantes were re-organised this year and it is thought that the use of the dummy is a recent development by the perpetrators, who feared a sound thrashing at the hands of the vigilantes.
Edinburgh Evening News
4 November 1931
Guy Fawkes little knew the queer legacy he would leave. He little knew that he would be responsible for urchins flouting the laws of mendicancy for some days before November 5, nor that he, the arch-plotter and daring assassin, would be symbolised by a comic doll; still less that because of him the sky would be bright once a year with shrieking rockets exploding into pink stars, wriggling emerald serpents, and a host of other radiant and colourful contraptions. Be it remembered, however, that he is the main supporter of an industry which is worth at least £2,000,000 a year – a very enterprising and up-to-date industry too.
One manufacturer was telling me yesterday that this year's new fireworks are masterpieces. There is a topical one reminiscent of Al Capone and his gang, with realistic noises portraying 'bumpings-off.' What names the fireworks have! The manufacturer rattled off names like 'Empire guns,' 'speedway sliders,' 'Indian marbles,' 'peacock plumes,' 'autogyros,' 'roly-polies,' &c., till I was as dazzled as if he had been letting them off before me. Far distant are the days of the simple squib and the Roman candle.
The most expensive firework display, I learn, had nothing to do with November 5. It was the Peace Display in 1919, when fireworks to the value of £10,000 were let off in 90 minutes. In this more economical period five guineas or so is the limit of anybody's firework festival, and the real selling is done in pennyworths and halfpennyworths.
Dundee Evening Telegraph
5 November 1946
Guy Fawkes returns
For a nation that endured so many unwanted bangs and explosions of all descriptions over six long years, the present enthusiasm about Guy Fawkes might seem too much of a good thing. A prominent firm of makers says, 'We have kept strictly to the old time type of fireworks and have avoided such things as atom bombs and V2s.' It's a nice point for some people. The sound of a large firework exploding is as deafening whether it is called a giant cracker or an atom bomb, but that our old customs survive the war with everything else is something even for Guy Fawkes may be grateful for.
Aberdeen Press and Journal
5 November 1932
Probably Guy Fawkes's day would not have lasted for more than three centuries had not its primary significance changed. Parliament in 1606 decreed an annual holiday for thanksgiving, and up to so late as 1859 the English Book of Common Prayer contained a special service for the occasion. The service has gone – its continuance was an unnecessary exacerbation of Roman Catholic feeling. The holiday, too, has gone. The pranks of a few infants in the streets, with the hearty encouragement of the fireworks manufacturers, are all that remain to remind us of the deadly religious quarrels of long ago. That, and the noun and verb 'guy'. To the hero of the occasion a famous phrase is, further, attributed: 'Dangerous diseases require a desperate remedy.' He said also, fiercely, when the Court questioned him, that one of his objects was 'to blow the Scots into Scotland.' Abler Englishmen than he was have wished to do the same, and have made no better job of it.