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Nutting Parties & Nutcrack Night

"The old goodwife’s well-hoarded nuts,
Are round and round divided,
And many lads' and lasses' fates
Are there that night decided:
Some kindle cozily, side by side,
And burn together trimly;
Some start away, with saucy pride,
And jump out over the chimney"

~ Robert Burns, Halloween, English translation, 1786

Inspired by a popular mid-century modern party mix snack food of cereal wheat squares, pretzels, and nuts, this tartan augurs good fortune for the Oracle of Nuts, otherwise known as Nutcrack Night! Besides apples, using nuts in Hallowe'en divination spells was a favourite fortune-telling game at parties for young people in the 19th and 20th centuries. On Nutcrack Nights, after an evening of gathering nuts from obliging trees, as a fun game to add to the general merriment, girls and boys would pair up as theoretical romantic partners and place hazelnuts and chestnuts to roast on the fire, side by side. If a nut hissed and steamed, it indicated a fretful temper in the owner of the nut; if both nuts equally misbehaved it augured strife for the pair. And if one or both popped away, separation was inevitable. But if both burned to ashes tranquilly side by side, a love attachment was forecast, with a long life of undisturbed happiness would be the couple's happy lot. 🎃 💕 🌰 🔥

Oct 22

Apart from apples, nuts were another important part of the traditional harvest season and a favourite item for celebration (particularly walnuts, chestnuts, and hazelnuts) for Hallowe'en divinations spells, usually to foretell one's romantic future.  

Several Scottish fortune-telling belief centered on the burning of hazelnuts or chestnuts on Hallowe'en, also called Nutcrack Night.


Girls and boys would place the nuts to roast on the fire, side by side.  "If a nut hisses and steams, it indicates a fretful temper in the owner of the chestnut; if both chestnuts equally misbehave it augurs strife. If one or both pop away, it means separation; but if both burn to ashes tranquilly side by side, a long life of undisturbed happiness will be their lot."

Another Victorian party game involved "chestnutting" on Halloween; the one finding the first burr would be the first to marry. If the burr opened easily, love would not last long; but if it was hard to open, then the romance would be lasting.

Today, one is more likely to see the ubiquitous party mix of nuts and crackers at a fall celebration.  And if one is on the younger side, to pick out ones favourites, and eat the items in a special order.

Designed by Carol A.L. Martin, this tartan contains the a celebration of fall Hallowe'en colours in a bowl of party mix - "the party mix snack food with cereal wheat squares and nuts."

For more on the lost art of Hallowe'en divination rituals, click the nut mix!

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