The Isle of Man celebrates Hop-tu-Naa

A turnip is more traditional for Manx Hop-tu-Naa'ers to carve on October 31st. Credit: Culture Vannin

Whilst most would associate October 31st with Halloween, for the Isle of Man it's a different day altogether.

Hop-tu-Naa pre-dates the renowned Halloween, coming before Christianity was known on-island and is considered the original New Year.

'Oie Houney', or 'November Eve', is regarded as the oldest of Manx traditions, with residents still choosing to carve turnips ('moots') rather than pumpkins.

Traditions such as singing the official 'Hop-tu-Naa' song, making turnip lanterns, dancing, cooking 'mrastyr' (potatoes, parsnips and fish mashed up with butter) and leaving left overs for the fairies outside still continue today.

The updated version of the song goes as follows:

Hop-tu-NaaMy mother's gone awayAnd she won't be back until the morningJinny the Witch flew over the houseTo fetch the stick to lather the mouseHop-tu-NaaMy mother's gone awayAnd she won't be back until the morningHop-tu-Naa, Traa-la-laa

Jinny the Witch

Joney Lowney (or Lewney) is believed to have lived in the parish of Braddan.

Her relative, Hampton Creer, researched his family history, and after looking through many old documents from the 17th and 18th centuries concluded that he had found the name of the woman whom he considered to be Jinny the Witch.

She was accused of witchcraft and sentenced to 14 days imprisonment, fined £3 and ordered to stand at the four market crosses, dressed in sackcloth.

A sinister part of Manx history includes Slieau Whallian, St John's, where a woman accused of being a witch would be "put into a barrel, with sharp iron spikes inserted round the interior, pointing inwards, and thus, by the weight of herself and the apparatus, allowed to roll from the top of the hill to the bottom; and many other persons of both sexes suffered here in a similar manner."

Whichever day you consider it, October 31st continues to be the oldest continuously-existing tradition for Manxies.

To find out more about Hop-tu-Naa, visit Culture Vannin's website.