Do it like a proper Manxie this year. Everything you need to celebrate in style.
Firstly, let’s just put this out there: Halloween can do one. This is Hop Tu Na fella! Don’t get us wrong, America has given us many great things over the years (we’re looking at you, Bill Murray). But, lest we forget, the land of the free is now run by Donald “My surname is literally another word for fart but that’s easily the least ridiculous thing about me” Trump. So, this forceful Americanisation of our culture has to be nipped in the bud. For us true Manxies, it ain’t Halloween y’all.
So what is Hop Tu Naa?
We’re glad you asked. Well, it’s an ancient Manx tradition that, as with everything archaic and traditional, had something to do with farmers. Say what you will about those hairy dudes but they’ve had a serious steer on the course of history! Not only do they control the bloody clocks, they dictated what generations of children would do every October 31st. And you thought they just buggered the sheep.
Seriously. What is Hop Tu Naa?
It is thought that it derives from the Manx Gaelic phrase ‘Shogh ta’n Oie’ which, as we all know, means “This is the night”. To be honest, that sounds a tad unsettling. Anyway, it’s a Celtic festival in honour of the New Year, signalling the end of the farmer’s rainy harvesting months and the beginnings of the farmer’s even rainier non-harvesting winter. Winter is coming. This is the night. See, totally creepy.
How is it celebrated?
It’s not radically different to the US or indeed the UK now. Kids dress up in macabre attire and they still look like tiny sh*t extras in a Tim Burton film. They also turn up at your house desperate for cash or sweets. Manx kids are even wiser to your cynical ways and know fully well you’re in the house. Just because you’ve turned the lights off doesn’t mean they can’t hear Game of Thrones on your telly, son. Get your Haribo out. Come on.
What are the differences?
Brilliantly, Hop tu Naa was way more violent than its ancestral cousins. Apparently, kids would bring the stumps of turnips and batter the living sh*t out of the doors that refused to give them money or, bizarrely, herring. Imagine being that aggressive about cold, fermented fish. It seems unnecessary. But undeniably badass.
Also, pumpkins are out of the question. Carving through that malleable flesh just isn’t a challenge for us Manxies. No, fetch me a turnip. Oh, and perhaps the largest petrol powered chainsaw you have, please. Yes, moots aka turnip lanterns are a true badge of honour. If you’ve carved yourself a Jinny the Witch or a twisted demonic face, you, my friend, are a legend in your own lifetime. Plus moots with their mangled, knobbly bits are way more terrifying than the pitiful pumpkin. Pah.
Who’s Jinny the Witch?
We all know the song but who is Jinny? And what the hell is her problem? Why is she lathering rats? Sort your life out Jinny. Well, back in 1716 (approximately) Joney Lowney, from Braddan, was minding her own business one day, just living it up in the 16th century Man Isle. Probably eating some kippers, gathering up some tweed, living the life. Joney was found guilty of witchcraft for interfering with Laxey flour or some insane accusation but, thankfully, this was not Salem. Joney got 14 days imprisonment, fined £3 and was ordered to wear a sackcloth. She then ingeniously marched up to the courts and changed her name by deed poll to ’Jinny’. “They’ll never know it’s me”, she cackled.
What do I need to celebrate in style?
It’s simple, really. Go old school. Black oversized bin bag, novelty nose and witch’s hat, memorize one of the numerous Jinny the Witch songs, get that moot a-carved and head out on the open road for some Hop Tu Naa-ing yo! Oh, yeah, and make sure you find a time machine and go back to being 8. Otherwise, it’s just weird. Seriously, dude.