My first pumpkin carving attempt in a very long time!
Whilst most of the UK celebrated Halloween yesterday, we Manxies* celebrated Hop-tu-Naa - a Celtic festival to celebrate the original New Year's Eve.

Although in modern times Hop-tu-Naa has changed to become very similar to Halloween, there are still some old customs recognised on the night. In particular, the carving of turnips (or moots as we like to call them) rather than pumpkins, which are then carried as lanterns. There is also the singing of Hop-tu-Naa songs, a more modern one is that of Jinnie the Witch - thought to be about a local lady called Joney Lowney who was tried for Witchcraft in 1715 and 1716.

The song goes:

My mother's gone away
And she won't be back until the morning

Jinnie the Witch flew over the house
To fetch the stick to lather the mouse

Hop-tu-Naa, Traa-la-laa

Hop-tu-Naa was a time for predictions and fortune-telling, however there are some customs that are no longer present today, because, well, they're a bit strange...

For instance there was the baking of a cake called Soddag Vallo (or Dumb Cake - as it was prepared in silence) using flour, eggs, eggshells, soot & salt. This was eaten by young women before walking backwards to bed, where they'd expect/hope to see their future husband in their dreams. It was expected that he would appear in a dream and offer them a drink of water.
(This might be worth a try if you regularly have Ryan Gosling dreams...)

Another was that the ashes from the fire would be spread out on the hearth last thing at night to receive a footprint. In the morning, if there was a footprint pointing towards the door, it was believed that someone in the house would die. If it pointed the other way it was believed that there would be a birth.

Stories of old customs really fascinate me, and I hope this little insight in to Hop-tu-Naa was as interesting for you as it was for me :-)

P.S. I couldn't find any moots in my local supermarket (where are all the turnips London?!), so I carved a pumpkin instead!

*Manxies/the Manx are people from the Isle of Man. Not to be confused with Mancs (people from Manchester).

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