Saturday, November 2, 2013
Oidhche nam Bocan - A Night of Spooks at The Highland Village
I moved to St. John’s, Newfoundland right after high school and my love of Halloween was taken to a new level with the grown up version of the celebrations that took place during the famous George Street Mardi Gras every year. Thousands of people dressed in costumes, that they must have worked on since the day after Halloween the previous year, came out and crowded that little street for the entire weekend closest to Halloween.
Now I that I am even older, trick-or-treating and large booze-fueled festivals like Mardi Gras, have been replaced with quieter activities that don’t involve waking up with a sick stomach from eating too much candy…or from drinking too much beer. Last Halloween, myself and a couple of friends dressed up in last minute costumes, drove to a graveyard in the country and took some Halloween-themed pictures and played hide and seek with a playful fox who happened to be roaming around. This year, I left town and ventured into the country for another different kind of Halloween celebration.
The Highland Village in Iona is a mostly outdoor museum depicting life as it was when the Scots first began settling the area. The area, which includes the villages of Grand Narrows, Iona and Christmas Island, lies along the shores of the Bras d’Or Lakes and the drive there takes one along a long stretch of deserted country road. During the day, especially in the fall months, the drive is peaceful and relaxing with colorful trees lining the road with old country farmhouses, many of them long deserted, tucked away near the treeline of large fields where one can often see deer grazing. At night, that drive has a kind of spooky feel, particularly if you are familiar with the folklore and many ghost stories that have been retold over the past few hundred years and passed down to future generations. I heard many of these stories so, wanting to partake in some Halloween-themed activities that didn’t involve heavy partying and knocking on doors begging for treats, I opted for a night at the Highland Village where a themed event called “Oidhche nam Bocan” or “Night of the Spooks” as it translates from Gaelic to English. For a fee of $12.00, the event included a nighttime tour of the Village with lanterns, skits, a storytelling session, tea and coffee, sweets and some traditional entertainment.
forerunners or changelings. Nevertheless, their beliefs made for an interesting alternative to the bar scene that seems to be a major part of many grown up Halloween celebrations and, after experiencing the Highland Village at night, I am now determined to make seeing in the day a priority for next summer.